EVERETT — The first three quarters of Saturday’s East-West All-Star Game couldn’t have gone much better for Monroe High School graduate Jordan Moore.
The linebacker/running back had helped the West team maintain a shutout with two key drive-stalling tackles inside the 30-yard line, and then he was presented with the Tony Whitefield Award of Excellence during a brief ceremony on the field before the start of the fourth quarter.
And then the Hula Bowl went and got in the way of his near-perfect afternoon.
Thanks to a Hula-inspired rule that gives the ball back to a team trailing by nine or more points after a fourth-quarter score, Moore and the West defense eventually had to settle for a 28-21 win that didn’t show just how dominant his unit was for most of the game.
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Moore said of a rule that helped the East team score three touchdowns in the final 6:16. “We’re playing football; let us play.”
The silver lining was that the final quarter of Moore’s last high school football game provided plenty of opportunities. The East team got six possessions in the fourth quarter alone, helping to account for all 21 points and 169 of the team’s 281 yards of total offense.
The West defense was on the field for 24 snaps over the final 12 minutes.
“For what it’s worth,” Moore said with a grin, “we got our reps.”
The demanding fourth quarter couldn’t dampen the spirits of Moore, who was ecstatic to get the win, to experience the all-star week, and to earn the award.
Moore and East running back Josh Richards of Southridge High School were each given awards of excellence that are designed to, according to the official game program, “symbolize dedication, attitude, sportsmanship and athletic ability” during the week leading up to the annual all-star game.
After the win, Moore said he was “really surprised. I was very honored. It was just a cherry on top of the week.”
Even without the award, and Saturday’s victory, Moore would have walked away from the annual event with a sweet taste in his mouth.
“This experience was everything and more,” said Moore, who still hasn’t decided whether he will play running back at Portland State or Dickinson State in the fall. “It was cool to come out and play with these guys.
“To find out what kind of guys these are? That’s really cool. Some of these guys, I know we’ll keep in contact for a very long time.”
Gutting it out
There were a few tense minutes when it looked like the final play of the first quarter might be Cody Tupen’s final snap of the game. The left tackle from Lake Stevens High School suffered a knee injury so significant that two teammates had to help carry him to the sideline between quarters.
Trainers worked on the knee before clearing Tupen to return for the West team’s second offensive drive of the second quarter. He played well into the fourth quarter with a heavily-taped right knee — team doctors made an initial diagnosis of a sprained medial collateral ligament, Tupen said after the game — and even made a key block on the game’s most important play.
“I felt like, with this tape, it was pretty sturdy,” said Tupen, a Pacific Lutheran University-bound lineman who limped in and out of the huddle for most of the afternoon. “I wanted to get back in there. We were doing pretty well. Our line was beating them up a little, so it felt good to play.”
Not even a half-hour after suffering the injury, Tupen helped seal off an opposing defensive end on Josiah Miller’s 80-yard run for the first touchdown of the game.
“It felt good knowing that I could still play with the knee,” Tupen said. “It definitely felt good when I saw (Miller) run by. Nobody was going to catch him.”
West coach Gordon Elliott was impressed by Tupen’s grit.
“He was banged up, and he kept playing,” Elliott said. “That (Miller run), he was the key block on that. He’s limping around, and I’m worried if he’s going to be able to block, and he ends up making the key block on that.
“He really did a great job. PLU’s got a great one in him. He’s going to really help them.”
Fool him once …
West cornerback Malik Barnes, a 6-foot-4 basketball star from Seattle’s Ingraham High School, nearly turned the tables on a scoreless game when a wild swing pass to his side bounced off his hands with nothing but 40 yards of grass separating him from an interception return touchdown three minutes into the second quarter.
Fortunately for Barnes, he would get tested again. And again.
Twice in the fourth quarter alone, Barnes intercepted East quarterback Gaven Deyarmin. He made a diving interception in the flat at the East 36-yard line with 11:02 remaining to set up the West team’s final touchdown, then Barnes added another pick less than six minutes later to end a brief East threat and preserve the win.
When asked what he attributed to the interceptions, Barnes said: “Being in the right spot, doing my technique, being humble. Do that, and the ball will come to you.”
And yet he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the performance.
“I should’ve had three,” Barnes said.
Fast and faster
The East team’s offense was asked to learn and put into action the Skyview playbook, no easy task according to Skyview and East head coach Steve Kizer.
“We want to go as fast as the officials will let us,” Kizer said of the Skyview offense, which implements plenty of no-huddle. “We taught them our system in five days and I thought they did a great job of running it.”
The East team had a tough time early on with the no-huddle, but backup quarterback Gaven Deyarmin drove the East team inside the West’s 30-yard line three times in the second quarter and later led the East on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter.