Fleming gears up to play in classic
Kent Fleming is ready to play in one of the biggest annual events in Kansas sports.
The 2005 Tonganoxie High graduate left late last week for Pittsburg in preparation for this Saturday's Shrine Bowl football game.
Fleming is the first THS football player selected for the event since Chris Johnson played in the game in 1990. Tonganoxie's Jay Monhollon also played in the 1983 Shrine Bowl.
"I've been training every day for it," Fleming said. "It's totally different between regular shape and football shape. I won't know until I get down there and put pads on."
While in Pittsburg, Fleming is practicing daily with his East squad teammates, but also flew last weekend to St. Louis with other Shrine Bowl players to visit young patients at the Shriners Hospital for Children.
Other activities planned include a parade and banquet for players in Pittsburg.
The East and West teams each will have 34 players competing in the all-star game, which will be televised on Sunflower Broadband channel 11, which is KTWU, the PBS affiliate in Topeka.
Coaching the two teams will be 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.
Nearly 40 sports media professionals and members of this year's coaching staffs selected the 68 players who will play in the Shrine Bowl, slated for 7 p.m. Saturday at Carnie Smith Stadium on the Pittsburg State campus.
The Shrine Bowl actually is the second all-star game Fleming has been invited to this summer.
The defensive lineman also was named to the Mo-Kan Classic, which pitted Kansas City metro athletes from the Kansas and Missouri side against each other earlier this summer.
Fleming, though, couldn't attend because he was working on academic preparations at Nebraska-Omaha, where he will play football this fall. Fleming will report Aug. 7 for practice at UNO.
¢ Saturday's Shrine Bowl from Pittsburg may be seen on KTWU, a PBS affiliate from Topeka.
¢ For Sunflower Broadband subscribers, it's channel 11.
¢ The game will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.
¢ Fleming, who is listed as No. 60 on the Shrine Bowl Roster, will be playing for the East team.
Although Fleming will be playing this fall in football-crazed Nebraska, he will have a final game in Kansas at one of the state's premier games.
But the former Chieftain standout isn't feeling any pressure.
"I'm not nervous at all, actually," Fleming said. "I'm just going to do what I always do, make plays."
He does hope Chieftains will make the trip to Pittsburg because he's representing Tonganoxie.
"Tell everybody to come out for it," Fleming said. "It really is for Tonganoxie basically."
Tickets for Saturday's 33rd annual Shrine Bowl are $20 in advance for reserved tickets (chair-back seats), $9 for general admission and $5 for students. Reserved tickets at the gate are $21, general admission tickets are $10 and student tickets are $6.
Tickets may be ordered by calling (800) 530-5524.