Probably none of the 90 players on the Shrine Bowl rosters appreciate the opportunity to play in this year’s game more than Ryan Marlatt.
After a standout but injury-plagued high school career at Aurora, the lineman is hoping to get one final football contest in this Saturday at Nebraska-Kearney’s Ron and Carol Cope Stadium.
“Throughout my time in high school, my seasons were cut short,” said Marlatt, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound South team selection. “I thought COVID-19 might make it so that we couldn’t play this game. It’s great that I’m able to go out with one more game.”
Marlatt’s senior season was limited to the first two quarters of the opener against Adams Central and the final three games.
“I still have a torn MCL,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how it holds together this week.”
Getting to play in the Shrine Bowl allows Marlatt to reach a long-time goal and keep up a family tradition.
“It’s something I’ve had as a goal since I started playing football,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle of things that I’ve accomplished.
“My dad (Rob) played in the 1986 Shrine Bowl. We have a Shrine Bowl plaque on the wall in the (Aurora High School) weight room. It lists all players who were selected, and there is only one other father-son combination. That’s a cool thing.”
Marlatt is looking forward to some intense competition along the line.
“A lot of guys are more my size and are more physical than we played against,” he said.
Those big guys include Marlatt’s cousin Tyler — a 6-5, 270-pound addition to the South roster from Elmwood-Murdock.
Central Nebraska is providing its share of large linemen. Gibbon’s Elijah “Chi” Onate — a Chadron State recruit — is a South team member that stands 6-4 and 270 pounds.
Suiting up for the North will be Ord’s CJ Hoevet (6-0, 270).
Marlatt will also be teaming up one final time with fellow Aurora graduate Nate Boerkircher, who is a Nebraska walk-on as a tight end.
“We got a lot closer this year,” Marlatt said. “We’re both going to Lincoln, although I’m not playing football. It’ll be cool to be (in the Shrine Bowl) with an Aurora guy.”
After making the decision not to play football in college (where he is going to major in actuarial science), Marlatt is glad to get one final opportunity thanks to the Shrine Bowl.
“After your last high school game and playing with those guys, it feels like the end,” he said. “Getting this opportunity is more of a sweet ending. I’m going to enjoy the entire experience.”
With the Shrine Bowl being postponed until July, the heat could be a factor this week, especially for those big guys on the line.
But Marlatt is prepared for that challenge, too.
“I’ve been lifting and I’m a baseball guy, so I’ve been out in the heat,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”