By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Kennedy, Draper represent Mac at Les Schwab Bowl on Saturday

News-Register File PhotoMcMinnville receiver Kane Kennedy (10) will play Saturday in the Les Schwab Bowl as a defensive back.
News-Register File Photo
McMinnville receiver Kane Kennedy (10) will play Saturday in the Les Schwab Bowl as a defensive back.

The annual all-star football game that pits the best high school players from the big schools in Oregon will have two representatives from McMinnville. Senior Kane Kennedy will suit up for the South and play defensive back, and senior Devin Draper will be on the sidelines, cheering his close friend on as part of the South’s cheer team.

Kennedy, who is committed to play wide receiver next fall at Western Oregon University, got the nod after McMinnville standout running back Spencer Payne injured his foot just after the conclusion of the spring track and field season. Payne had been selected to compete in the all-star game, but after having to withdraw, McMinnville assistant football coach Don Rutschman persuaded organizers to replace Payne with Kennedy.

“I thought he was kidding at first,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said Payne has had a rough senior year. Payne had to get his appendix removed during the football season and then sat out the entire basketball season because of a broken wrist. Now comes another injury that will hold him out of the all-star cam and push his return to the football field in the fall for the start of the Linfield football season. Still, Kennedy said, Payne has had a good attitude.

“That’s just Spencer,” he said.

Kennedy said Payne wants Kennedy to score a touchdown for him.

“Playing in the game is definitely a blessing,” he said, “but I just wish Spencer was here, and that I didn’t have to take his spot.”

Meanwhile, Draper is set to cheer in his second straight Les Schwab Bowl as part of the South. He said there is a 10-hour practice scheduled for today in Tualatin where the combined 34 cheerleaders from the North and South teams will learn a halftime routine.

“This year will be way cool,” Draper said. “Kane and I are good friends, and the fact that I will be able to cheer him on is pretty cool, I guess.”

Draper was a three-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines for the Grizzlies, so he hasn’t exactly cheered in many football games through the years. He said he started cheering his junior year after not having anything to do in the winter.

“From the very beginning I was always skeptical,” he said. “I never thought I was going to be a cheerleader.”

Draper ended up enjoying it, and a friend he met at last year’s Les Schwab Bowl got him interested in cheering in college. She was committed to Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, a school well known for its cheerleading prowess. In 2012, Navarro won a national championship in cheer, adding to an impressive record of titles. Draper said he traveled to Navarro in the winter for a tryout and earned a spot on the team. He leaves in July for a week-long camp then returns in August for the start of school.

“I decided, why not try out for one of the best colleges in the nation?” he said.

In the meantime, Draper will cheer one more time as a high schooler with one of his best friends on the field. Kennedy said it has been a bit tough to get into things because he’s going to play offense in college, but with game day fast approaching, he’s beginning to feel the anticipation.

“I’m starting to look forward to it,” he said.

Notes: The Les Schwab Bowl starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. Gates open at 3 p.m. Reserved tickets for adults are $15 and $12 for students. General admission is $8 for adults and $6 for students. You can also listen to the game on 1080 AM The Fan.

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