Four Juneau-Douglas High School senior football players have been invited to play in the Al Aska Shrine 28th Annual North-South Football Classic that takes place at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Anchorage Football Stadium.
The invited Crimson Bears include wide receiver-defensive back C.J. Keys, offensive tackle-linebacker Jake Ritter, tight end-defensive end Mychal Hutcherson and running back-defensive back Brian Felix. All four Juneau players made the All-Cook Inlet Football Conference Team that was announced last Thursday.
Rodney Young, the game coordinator for Al Aska Shrine, said more players from Southeast might be invited to play, including players from Sitka and Ketchikan.
He said the program is able to help house the players and provide them with meal vouchers while in Anchorage. But players from outside the Anchorage area have to pay for their own airline tickets, though the Al Aska Shrine does try to find sponsors for the airfare.
The annual all-star game brings together top seniors from around the state and helps raise money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, which treat more than 500 children from Alaska. Young said there are 191 Shrine temples around the country, and about 170 of them host similar all-star games to raise funds for the organization's 22 hospitals around the United States.
The Al Aska Shrine North-South game was struggling a few years ago, when it was held in the spring or early summer, barely making $2,000, Young said. But in 2000, the game was moved to the fall and a bigger emphasis was placed on getting sponsorships. The 2000 game made about $20,000 and the 2001 game raised $28,000, and the two games since then have been in the same range, Young said.
Young said the sponsors purchase game jerseys for the players and they buy blocks of tickets, which are then distributed free to anybody who wants to watch the game.
The Juneau players typically end up on the South Team, which will be co-coached by West Anchorage head coach Bob Garman and assistant coach Travis Cantrell. The North Team will be coached by Chugiak head coach Duncan Shackelford.
The game's theme is "Strong Legs Run; So Weak Legs May Walk." More information on the Shriners Hospitals can be found on the Web at http://www.shrinershq.org.