The best high school football players from Montana will gather in Billings next July for the 71st annual East-West Shrine Game and at least three Missoulians will be among them.
Two Sentinel boys and one from Big Sky were selected when the all-star game's rosters were released at the stroke of midnight Christmas. Mitch Roberts, a quarterback with the Spartans who will play receiver, and teammate Connor Rauckhorst, a defensive end, will be joined by Big Sky offensive guard Bo Hann.
Four more Missoula products landed on the alternate list should any of the active roster players be forced to withdraw between now and July 15, 2017, when the game kicks off at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Among them are Loyola Sacred Heart running back Jacob Byrne and quarterback Kellen Round, Sentinel DE Ethan Jones and Big Sky WR Nick Wakai.
In all 12 teams within the Missoulian's coverage area were represented on the rosters with six more dotting the alternates list.
Plenty of future Montana Grizzlies will get a chance to shine in the Shrine Game before coming to Missoula next fall as well. Among them are Roberts of Sentinel, the Polson duo of Matthew Rensvold and Tanner Wilson, Tanner Hoerner of Columbia Falls, McKenzie Holt of Thompson Falls and Helena Capital's Marcus Welnel for the West. On the East roster are Braydon Deming of Billings West, Nate Dick of Billings Senior and Michael McGinnis of Sidney.
The West boys will be coached by Helena's Tony Arntson, a former Griz standout who will coach his son, Ryan, in his last high school game. Senior's Chris Murdock will lead the East.
The Shrine Game, the premier all-star game for Montana's recently graduated football standouts, also serves to raise money to support the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Spokane. Last year's game in Butte raised more than $100,000.