The East has a challenge ahead, and the head coach for the Kansas Shrine Bowl East team knows it.

The East has a challenge ahead, and the head coach for the Kansas Shrine Bowl East team knows it.
Rod Stallbaumer (Lyndon), his coaching staff, and his East All-Star players will be trying to end a three-game Shrine Bowl losing skid to the West at this year’s Kansas Shrine Bowl in Wichita on July 25. The West’s three-game win streak is the third such streak in the 35-year history of the state’s premier All-Star game.  Neither team has ever won four in a row.
“The coaching staff has talked about the streak,” Stallbaumer said. “We’re competitive by nature, and it’s something we’d like to get stopped this year.”
Although the West has won three in a row, it hasn’t been easy. Two of the games have been decided by a single point, with the West scratching out a 10-9 victory at Pittsburg in 2006, and staging an exciting 29-28 come-from-behind win in the closing minutes of last year’s game at Emporia. Overall, the West leads the series 21-13-1.
With the game less than nine weeks away, Stallbaumer said he and his assistant coaches have already laid a foundation for this year’s squad. “It all started with the selection process in December”, he says, “with picking players, replacement players, and meeting with coaches. It takes quite a bit of organization.”
Stallbaumer says one of the biggest challenges will be getting players on the same page once the team assembles for training camp. “We’ll need to blend different styles and different systems the players have played in. They are the best players on their teams, in their leagues and in their classifications.  We’ll need get them on the same page by furthering teamwork and camaraderie, and utilize their talents for a common purpose.”
He said he hasn’t seen most of the players “live”, but has watched film on many of them. He said the coaching staff will do some evaluation before camp starts, but notes that “there will be some kids who will surprise you.”
What’s the most important job for the coaching staff, other than preparing the team for the game? “The biggest thing is to try to find ways to make this a memorable experience for the players.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Stallbaumer says the Shrine Bowl Experience is exciting for the coaching staff as well as the players. “It’s by far the most talent any of the coaches will have the opportunity to coach at the high school level.  It’s a unique coaching experience.”
Stallbaumer will have plenty of help during the East training camp, which opens on July 17th at Emporia State. He’ll be joined by 5 assistant coaches, one each from the five largest football classes in Kansas, and all who led their high school teams to playoff berths in 2008. Assistant coaches in 2009 included Pete Flood (6A Olathe North, 8-3), Kevin Kopecky (5A St. Thomas Aquinas 11-2), Bill Arnold (4A Topeka Hayden, 13-1), Brad Hammett (3A Marysville, 10-2), and Chris Schmidt (2A-1A Olpe, 13-1). Arnold’s Hayden team captured the 2008 4A championship.
Stallbaumer will begin his third year as head coach of Lyndon this fall.  He previously coached at Rossville as an assistant, and at Quivira Heights as both an assistant (3 years) and head coach (2 years).
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.