Birds’ Day, Jersey Roberts are Shrine Game MVPs

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BLOOMINGTON — For Gavin Day and Edwards Roberts, being selected to play in the 48th Annual Illinois Shrine Football Game was honor enough. But each made the game even more memorable by winning the Most Valuable Defensive Player award for their respective team.

Playing safety for the Blue All-Stars, Roberts intercepted a pass, while Red All-Star Day also had a pick, along with four punt returns, to help his team to an 11-7 win on Saturday at Tucci Stadium in Illinois Wesleyan University.

“It was the most fun football I’ve ever had,” Day said. “It was definitely a fun experience. It was more of a fun atmosphere with no pressure to win, just play.”


Day, a two-way player at Southwestern at running back and safety, was used as a cornerback in the Shrine Game.

“I had never played a corner before,” Day said with a laugh. “But it worked.”

Despite an injury, Roberts was also a two-way player, seeing action at defensive back and running back.

“Eddie is easily one of the best athletes in our region,” said former Jersey coach Ric Johns. “He’s great at a lot of sports.”

Roberts, who is also an outstanding water skier, tennis player and basketball player, will ski for the University of Alabama.

Corbin Hickey of Johnston City has been named Blue MVP. He had five receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. Hoffman, who passed for 104 yards and a touchdown, was named Red Offensive MVP.

Day will head to St. Francis University this fall, where he will play running back.

The Shrine Game is sponsored by the Illinois Coaches Association and the Mohammed Shriners Club and included a week-long series of events prior to the game.

“It was very hot during the week,” Day said, “but game day it wasn’t that bad, about 78 degrees.”

Other area players on the Red All-Stars included Roxana’s Justin Laws at offensive lineman, Carrollton’s Kyle Leonard at wide receiver, Marquette Catholic’s Colten Roswell at defensive lineman and Hillsboro’s Magnus Wells at lineman defensive.

The Blue All-Stars included Alton’s Ihzel Brown at offensive lineman, Jersey’s Edward Roberts at safety, Breese Mater Dei’s Reed Timmermann at outside linebacker, and Belleville East’s Chris Mueller at offensive lineman.

“It was pretty cool to play on the same team with guys I’ve always played against,” Day said.

Defense was the name of the game. Normally a high-scoring affair, this year’s game was dominated by defenses.

On Saturday, the Red All-Stars had 239 total rushing yards for the game. Les Bleues had 232 yards in the air, but were held to less than 7 yards on the ground.

The Blue All-Stars took a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter when Monticello quarterback Joey Sprinkle threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Johnston City’s Corbin Hickey with 26 seconds left.

But the Red All-Stars drove the ball for a touchdown before halftime. Hoffman threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Mahomet-Seymour’s Dream Eagle in the final round of the half. Clem McCullough Elgin ran for two points on a false conversion kick to put his side ahead 8-7 at halftime,

In the second half, Streamwood’s Michael Estrada threw a 22-yard field goal for the red team with 9:08 left to make it 11-7.

The Shrine Game dates back to 1975, when the Bloomington Shrine Club and the Illinois Coaches Association sponsored the first Illinois High School Football All-Star Game at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium. After 22 years in Normal, the game was moved to Peoria Stadium.

In 2012 the game returned to Bloomington and has since been played at Tucci Stadium on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.

Among the sponsored events for star players last week was a softball game with children from a Shriners hospital, as well as other opportunities to learn more about Shriners hospitals and what they do for help children.

All of this had an effect on Day.

“It felt good to see the kids playing and laughing at the softball game,” Day said. “They had the chance to do something that we take for granted.”


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