The third member of the Creston Neitzel family to participate in a Shrine Bowl football game was visited by officials from Iowa’s 40th edition of the all-star contest Tuesday.
Rich Hein and Bob Day of the Za-Gig-Zig Shrine Temple formally welcomed Panther all-stater Luke Neitzel to the South squad, and informed him of the schedule and player expectations leading up to the July 27 game in the UNI-Dome at Cedar Falls.
“We’re in the process of going around to talk to the payers and present them with their packets,” Hein said.
Much of the material was familiar to Neitzel, whose brother, Nick, played in the 37th annual Iowa Shrine Bowl. Their father, Monte, played in the Nebraska Shrine Bowl in 1985.
Hein said all players and cheerleaders selected for the game are asked to raise at least $800 through advertising sponsors in the game program booklet and discounted game tickets for $10 each. (Tickets are $15 at the gate on game day.)
Neitzel, a two-time all-state defensive back and also one of the state’s total yardage leaders as a quarterback, was selected for the South team as a quarterback by head coach Tom Wilson of West Des Moines Dowling Catholic, according to Creston/O-M coach Brian Morrison.
“He told me they’re looking at Luke as a quarterback,” Morrison said, although many times players are shifted around to various positions once training camp starts. “Luke is one of the premier athletes in 3A, and to get an opportunity to play with the best players in the state for one more game is a well-deserved opportunity.”
In Morrison’s three years as head coach, this is his second Shrine Bowl player. Collin Bevins, a redshirt freshman on the Iowa State football team, played defensive end on the South team in 2012.
“The South won when Nick played, and last year when Collin played,” Neitzel said. “So, yeah, there’s some pressure to get a win.”
This will be the first time in several years the game won’t be played at Jack Trice Stadium on the Iowa State University campus. An NCAA ruling determined a Division I university cannot serve as an all-star game host, with players housed on campus, because of potential conflicts of interest.
“In the South, SEC territory, a lot of these all-star games were being held in December and January (recruiting periods) and they felt there were too many recruiting advantages for those host schools,” Hein said.
Day said there are advantages of the University of Northern Iowa serving as a host in Cedar Falls.
“The game is at the UNI-Dome this year and we think it’s a pretty neat place to play,” Day said. “Every year it’s pretty hot in July. This year they’ll be playing in air-conditioning.”
“My one high school goal was to play in the UNI-Dome,” Neitzel said. “I didn’t really get a chance to do it in the game I wanted to, but in a roundabout way, this is a chance to play there and I’ll take it.”
Day said several events are planned during game week. The Friday night banquet will be at the Sullivan Center. A parade will be held in downtown Cedar Falls on Saturday morning. Players and cheerleaders will hold a mini-clinic for children from the Shrine hospitals on Friday morning.
For Neitzel, it will be a chance to hook up on the same team with past competitors. The South roster includes Alex Reed of Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Noah Kaldenberg of Winteset and Atlantic’s Sam Markham. Also on the team from this region is Central Decatur’s Dalton Gilbert.
Players report on July 20 for a week of training camp.
“You get to play with different kids and make new relationships,” Neitzel said. “It will be a good time. I’ll get to play with three kids I’ve played against for as long as I can remember. It will be nice to talk to them and play on the same team.”
And, despite some offers ranging from Division 1-AA, to Division II and Division III, Neitzel said he may just be a student next year as a college freshman. So, this could be the last chance to strap on the pads and compete.
“This is probably the last go-around for me in football,” he said, “so it should be a good time.”
Morrison is excited to see his two-way star showcase his talents for the entire state.
“Not making it deep in the playoffs, eastern Iowa really hasn’t had a chance to see him play,” Morrison said. “It will be good to see what he can do. I know he will represent Creston/Orient-Macksburg extremely well. I’m just real excited to see what he can do there.”