The East roster for Friday night’s Sertoma Grin Iron Classic high school all-star football game is filled with players from bigger schools.
But the West is out to prove that, even though they might be from some of the region’s mid-sized and smaller schools, the western half of southwest Missouri might be where you find the region’s football strength.
“Just because we don’t really have that many Class 5 or Class 6 members doesn’t mean the rest of the kids aren’t talented enough to have a position out here,” Monett graduate Matt Murphy said before Wednesday’s West practice. “The people that are on this team have proven themselves enough.”
Murphy’s Monett Cubs made the Class 3 semifinal, and 11 of his West teammates from Webb City and Lamar earned state championships last fall. That could overcome the big-school discrepancy, which favors the East, 30-5, among Class 5 and 6 players.
The sides will line up Friday at Parkview’s JFK Stadium with bragging rights on the line in the 12th annual football postseason game.
In addition, Sertoma will be hosting the second annual Sertoma Grin Action all-star volleyball tournament, featuring standouts from 24 schools on four teams.
The games will benefit the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a mobile dental clinic for at-risk children that have no access to dental care. The football and volleyball games have raised more than $400,000 for the cause, according to event organizers.
In the volleyball tournament, the East roster stands out, as it has six players from three teams — Ozark, Mountain Grove and Winona — that made state this past fall.
For Ozark graduate Brianna Justis, it’s the last game she’ll play for her mother and Ozark coach, Becky, before heading to play at Lindenwood University.
She’ll also be playing without her twin sister, Bridget, who will play in a different all-star game before heading off to Drury.
Brianna said it’s the first time in her memory she’ll be playing without her sister.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Brianna Justis said. “I’ll probably try to turn around and try to yell at her, but she won’t be there.”