This week will be a humbling experience for a trio of Times-area football standouts.
Sandwich's Dylan Baumbach, Streator's Brandon Durdan and Fieldcrest's Derek May, along with Streator head coach Brian Hassett, will take part in five days worth of activities, including a visit to the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago, culminating with the Illinois High School Shrine Game on Saturday.
Kickoff for the 45th annual game, which features graduated seniors from across the Land of Lincoln, is set for 11 a.m. at Tucci Stadium on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
Baumbach, who gained 1,034 yards (6.7 per carry) and rushed for 10 touchdowns while also making 33 total tackles (23 solo) and intercepting a pass last fall, will suit up for the West All-Stars and play defensive back.
"I remember one of my teammates two years ago (Zach Bosek) playing in (the Shrine Game), and I just knew it was a fundraiser; that's about all I knew about it. I was excited when I found out that I made it, especially since it's going toward a good cause and it's not just about (the players), it's also about the children that we're supporting," said Baumbach, who's committed to University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "It's pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to it.
"You know, everyone's, obviously very talented, considering they made the game. So it'll be highly competitive. I'm looking to go down there and do the best that I can. I want to make a couple good plays here and there.
"I think the experience is the bigger picture of this. It'll be fun to get to know a lot of guys you don't really know (Baumbach added one of his future college teammates is also playing in the game) — literally from all around the state; that's cool. I want to make friends from both teams."
May, who had 30 receptions for 415 yards and six touchdowns last fall, will suit up for the East All-Stars. The game will be the final appearance on the gridiron for May, who will attend Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he'll major in aviation.
"(Fieldcrest's) Grant Jochums (played in the 2015 Shrine Game), and my mom talked to his dad about it, and they said he loved it and that it was like one of his favorite parts of high school football, so I'm looking forward to it," May said. "I was just honored enough to even be considered to be a part of it; for (Fieldcrest coach Derek Schneeman) to even put my name up for it, it's pretty humbling.
"Just being able to go up against some of the best DBs in the state, and just be able to kind of compare myself to them and just see where like I fall ... I'll just do what I can for the team and go see what I can do. I'll have a good time no matter what; just to be able to get out there one more time — strap up — and represent Fieldcrest, and just being with the guys one last time and just being able to get that football brotherhood back ... and being able to work with them ...
"This is an awesome thing (the Illinois Football Coaches Association) puts on for us, to be able to fundraise money for (the Shriners Hospitals for Children) and help the kids out any way we can ... It's a great organization, and I'm looking forward to working with them.
"I'll enjoy it. I'll be humbled to say that I'm able to be a part of it."
Durdan, an All-Interstate Eight Conference Large Division First Team offensive lineman, will suit up for the East All-Stars. This will be the fourth year in a row that a Streator Bulldog has participated in the game: Durdan's brother, Justin (2016), Isaiah Dukes (2017) and John Benckendorf (2018).
Hassett, coaching in the game for the third time (also in 2004 and 2013), will be an assistant for the East squad and coach the defensive backs.
"I'm just honored to have the opportunity to coach in it. It's (an) outstanding (event)," said Hassett, who added thousands of dollars are donated by people that are involved with the game.
"It's a fun-packed week; the kids will keep busy, and we're going to coach them up, and, hopefully we have a great day Saturday."