North wins 2009 Shrine Bowl
AMES – Estherville Lincoln Central’s Justin Blinkmann and coach Jerry Shultz both walked off the field as winners to end their respective football careers as the North beat the South, 21-17, in the 2009 Iowa Shrine Bowl on Saturday.
Blinkmann, a 2009 graduate of ELC, had two fumble recoveries to help the North.
“The first one came at about the 25-yard line and helped us put one in,” he said. “The second fumble, the South went for it on fourth down and the ball bounced out and right in front of me-I was the nose (guard).”
Blinkmann played defensive end, but was also in on the special teams-punt returns.
Coach Shultz, who was head coach of the North squad, watched his team come from behind to beat the South.
“We fumbled the opening kickoff and they (the South) took it right in,” he said.
That fumble was by Iowa State recruit Josh Lenz.
Lenz made up for his early mistake in the fourth quarter.
With the North trailing 10-7, Lenz returned a punt 58 yards for the score.
The South came back to retake the lead at 17-14, but Lenz again came through.
He returned the ensuing kickoff to the North 46 and then outran the South defense on a post pass for the game-winning score.
Shultz said the North did a good job of moving the ball all day, but “we missed three field goals in the first half.”
While Blinkmann said the teams featured several big guys, he still “felt confident.”
“My speed evened the playing field a little bit,” he said.
Both Shultz and Blinkmann enjoyed the experience of the Shrine Bowl.
“Everybody liked coach Shultz,” said Blinkmann.
Upon arrival at the ISU campus, Shultz and his fellow North coaches immediately began working on what offenses and defenses they’d run.
“It goes much faster with talented players who know a lot about football,” Shultz said. “By Wednesday or Thursday, the guys know what they were doing and we just kept going through the plays.”
Players practice once or twice a day depending on the other activities scheduled for them.
Part of the Shrine Bowl experience is visiting the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis.
“The trip shows the kids what they’re playing for,” said Shultz.
Blinkmann said he was amazed at seeing little kids with arms amputated and other disabilities.
“We got to interact with them and play games,” he said.
To help understand the children better, casts were put on players’ arms and legs so they could see how the kids felt, Blinkmann said.
Another aspect of the experience the ELC graduate will take away from the game is all the new people he met-children and players.
“Some of the players are going to Iowa and Iowa State and I can say I played with them,” he said.
Shultz said the Shriners do a good job hosting both the players and the coaches.
“Also, all of these players have good character,” he said. “We were complimented everywhere we went and had no problems with any of them.”