CASPER – Torrington High School graduates Dylan Dreiling and Cody Pierce and Southeast High School graduate Harrison Hall got to put on the football pads one more time playing with and against the best players from around the state of Wyoming.
It was a memorable week for the trio. Past rivalries set aside, early mornings, late nights and friendships made for life over the course of the week were just a few of the highlights throughout the week.
“We are all best friends now,” Pierce said. “We have everyone’s phone numbers, Snap Chat’s and Instagram’s. We are now almost like brothers.”
The only difference between this year and past years was the trio weren’t able to make the trip to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit the regional Shriners Hospital, which is always a highlight of the week for all the players.
“The Shriners took great care of us. They were awesome,” Dreiling said. “Casino night. Movie night. They fed us great. I’m glad to have been a part of.”
Despite that, the players still got to meet with individuals who have been helped by the Shriners Hospital over the years, so they still managed to understand who and what they were playing for on Saturday afternoon at Cheney Alumni Field on the campus of Natrona County High School in Casper.
“The Shriners do a great job of keeping us busy,” Hall added. “They brought in different patients, and they always had activities for us.”
Two-a-day practices, moving night, casino night keep the players busy throughout the week, but when the football was kicked off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dreiling, Pierce and Hall all contributed to the South’s 34-32 come-from-behind victory in the 48th annual Shrine Bowl.
Dreiling helped anchored the South’s defensive line, putting pressure on the North’s quarterback and clogging up holes intended for the running backs.
“It was a great experience. I lost my voice. It was out of this world playing with the big dogs,” Dreiling said. “It’s a whole new experience. We were talking about it on the bus ride over. We can’t believe it. It’s been a great experience for all of us.”
Pierce flew all over the field, breaking up multiple passes, recording five tackles and assisting in downing a punt at the 1-yard line late in the contest.
“It was tough, fast-paced game. We stuck to it and played with our hearts,” Pierce said. “It was incredible. It felt unreal.”
Hall provided assistance on special teams, including a key block, allowing South quarterback Graedyn Buell (Cheyenne East) to score on a two-point conversion to put the team up 34-26 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great experience to play in the best in the state, and then also playing with guys who you grew up playing against,” Hall said. “It was different and takes some getting used to, but it was great to be with all the competition. It just makes you better.”
The South’s squad was led by Mountain View head coach Brent Walk, who Dreiling and Pierce played against in the semifinal round of the playoffs last fall.
“It was weird, but I have a lot of respect for him,” Pierce said. “The way he coached; it was very similar to coach (Russell) Stienmetz. It was easy to catch on.”
The South overcame a 14-0 first-half deficit to pick up its first win over the North since the 2012 edition of the Shrine Bowl.
This fall, Pierce plans to attend Eastern Wyoming College to study nursing, while Hall is going to Casper College to study ag business. Dreiling is still undecided but has his plans down to either becoming a pilot in Hawaii or playing football at Chadron (Nebraska) State College.