Fleming selected to play in 33rd Shrine Bowl
Kent Fleming never played in a state football championship while at Tonganoxie High, but the senior will be part of Kansas' premier football game this summer.
Fleming recently was named to the East team for the 33rd annual Kansas Shrine Bowl, which is slated for July 29 at Carnie Smith Stadium at Pittsburg State University.
The THS student, who was the anchor of the Chieftain defensive line in the fall, was selected as one of 68 seniors who will play in the all-star game.
Fleming said Monday that he was eager to play with some of the top football players in the state.
"My number one thing is to represent my school the best way I can and then it's to get my name out there and let them know I can play," Fleming said. "That's pretty much it, and have fun."
Fleming is the third Tonganoxie player to be invited to compete in the Shrine Bowl. Chris Johnson was selected in 1990, and Jay Monhollon in 1983.
Nearly 40 sports media professionals and members of this year's Shrine Bowl coaching staffs selected the 68 players who will play in Pittsburg.
While in Pittsburg, Fleming will practice with the East squad nine times from July 21 until the game July 29. During that time, players will fly to St. Louis to visit patients at the Shriner Hospital and then return to southeast Kansas for more activities, including a banquet and a parade through Pittsburg.
Lawrence Free State coach Bob Lisher will be the head coach for the East team. Other East coaches are Kevin Kinderknecht (St. Marys), Steve Buhler (Rossville), Don Simmons (Chanute), Blake Pierce (Seaman) and Mark Littrell (Olathe South).
Salina Central's Marvin Diener will lead the West squad. Assistant coaches are John Petrie (Hoxie), Pat Haxton (Southeast of Saline), Jason Kenny (Ulysses), Alan Schukman (Wichita Carroll) and Mike Smith (Garden City).
Of the nearly 70 players selected for the Shrine Bowl, Fleming has competed against just one -- Topeka Hayden's Thomas Kent. The East squad also includes Free State's Nick Ayre and Brett Lisher and Lawrence High's Brandon Lassiter.
The Shrine Bowl roster is loaded with players who likely will sign to play football at NCAA Division I and II schools. Fleming hopes to fit into that list.
The defensive lineman has sparked interest from Nebraska-Omaha, Central Missouri State and Washburn, along with "a lot of junior colleges," he said.
Before the season started, Fleming had two personal goals -- make all-state first team in Class 4A and play in the Shrine Bowl. Those goals have been met, and Fleming also was named all-Kaw Valley League as a defensive lineman.
Still, Fleming's ultimate goal is to play Division I football. To do that, Fleming, who helped the Chieftains to back-to-back 9-2 seasons in 2004 and 2005, likely would need to sign with a junior college first.
With the first day of the college signing period approaching next month, Fleming soon will decide where he'll play college football.
After that, the THS senior can focus on that prestigious all-star game this July.
"I get to play with the best kids from the state," Fleming said. "That will be fun. I always wondered what it would be like to do that. I get an opportunity to prove that I deserve to be in this game."