Kansas Shrine Bowl West head coach Bo Black (Great Bend), his players, and the West coaching staff will try to do what the West has not done on three previous Shrine Bowl attempts.

Kansas Shrine Bowl West head coach Bo Black (Great Bend), his players, and the West coaching staff will try to do what the West has not done on three previous Shrine Bowl attempts. 
The 2009 West squad will be gunning for an unprecedented fourth consecutive win in the 36 year history of the state’s premier All-Star football game on July 25 at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
The West owns three three-game winning streaks in the series, but has never been able to extend a winning streak to a fourth game. 
The West dominated the series in the early years, winning three in a row from 1975-1977 after losing the inaugural game in 1974. The West also earned trios of wins from 1979-1981 and again from 1989-1991, and has won the last three games to extend its overall lead in the series to 21-13-1.
How important is winning the game?  
Black says he learned the importance of the game soon after being named head coach for 2009. 
“As an assistant coach (in 2003 and 2008), you get to go through the process, but you don’t hear all of the comments about how important it is to win from the western Kansas Shriners”, Black said. “The game is for the kids, but there are a lot of people interested in the West side winning.”
Black will be joined by five assistant coaches, one each from the five Kansas football classifications.  They included Randall Zimmerman (Junction City), whose Bluejays had a perfect 13-0 record in 2008 and captured the 6A state crown. Other coaches are  Tom Shroeder (5A Liberal, 5-5), Steve Warner (4A Buhler, 9-3), Greg Koenig (3A Beloit, 10-2), and Scott Moshier (2A-1A Meade, 10-2).
Like many Shrine Bowl head coaches before him, Black will be faced with two major challenges in getting his team ready for the game. 
The first is getting a group of talented players slotted into the right positions on the field, and the second is building team chemistry. 
Getting players in the right positions is a challenge Shrine Bowl coaches face, and sometimes involves asking some players to play a positions where they’ve had little or no experience. 
“There’s a lot of talented kids and only one football”, Black said. “A lot of them are superstars coming from their schools, and we’ll try to find ways to spread the ball around.  But it’s a good problem to have.”
While the challenge of getting players in the right place takes place during practice,  Black say team chemistry often takes place during “down time” between practices.  Black says that’s the “fun part” of the Shrine Bowl experience. 
“I enjoy getting away from the practice field and spending time with the kids, and getting to know them and where they’re from. There’s a lot of neat kids involved.  When you’re around the kids for a tad over a week, the most important thing is getting to know them and build team chemistry in a short amount of time.”
The West squad will report for a week of practice on Friday, July 17, at St. John’s Military Academy in Salina. The team will practice at least twice a for a several days before traveling to Wichita on July 24 for the annual Shrine Bowl banquet, held the night before game.
Black will be coaching in the Shrine Bowl for the third time, having served as an assistant in 2003 and 2008. He’ll begin his ninth year as the Great Bend Panther coach later this summer. He’s a 1995 graduate of Emporia State, where he was a two-year starter in the ESU defensive backfield.
The Kansas Shrine Bowl All-Star Football Game is an annual event featuring two football teams composed of 68 of the best graduated high school players from the East and West. 
Kickoff for this year's game at Cessna Stadium in Wichita is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 25.