Keaton Henry has received many accolades during high school, but there may not be one that excited him more than an invite to the annual Nebraska Shrine Bowl football game.
“I was stoked,” Henry said. “It was awesome.”
The recent Boone Central graduate will play in the Shrine Bowl game on Saturday at the University of Nebraska-Kearney at 2 p.m.
Henry recently wrapped up a highly successful football career. Known for his skills as a linebacker, he was named to multiple all-conference and all-district teams. He has was named to many all-state teams, including first team Class C1 by the Omaha World-Herald and Huskerland Prep Report as well as honorable mention from The Associated Press and Lincoln Journal-Star.
The list of Henry’s accolades is not a short one and adding the words “Shrine Bowl participant” was a big deal for him.
“My parents were kind of hiding it from me when I came home,” Henry said about receiving his invite to the game. “I was just coming back from basketball.”
Henry was fortunate enough to be joined at one of the most recognizable high school all-star games in the state by his teammate, another all-state honorable mention honoree, David Hansen. While he mentioned that all the experiences have been pretty cool, he admitted its been more enjoyable having a teammate there with him.
“David’s a pretty funny kid,” Henry said.
The schedule has been busy for the Cardinal teammates this week as they prepare for the big game. According to the Shrine Bowl’s website, players arrived at their respective campuses last Saturday morning.
Henry and Hansen will both play for the North team who practice and live at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln for the week. Practices began the next morning for both squads and continued daily through the week. Both teams will then be transported by bus to Kearney on Friday and begin final preparations for the game.
The big day for the players came Tuesday. The players were visited at Nebraska Wesleyan’s campus by patients from the Twin Cities Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Minn.. The players went through different stations to learn more about the hospital’s mission and the children that are treated there.
After a lunch break, Henry then made a point to meet as many of the kids as he could. He found the whole experience to be a true eye-opener.
“These kids have been through a lot more than I have,” Henry said. “It’s also pretty cool how the Shriners pay all the expenses for the kids.”
With Saturday coming closer, Henry is beginning to focus on the game. He will play both tight end and linebacker for the North squad, but his goals for the game are simple: he just wants to play and knock as many people down as possible.
“Scoring a touchdown would be cool too,” he admitted.
After the week is done, Henry will focus on his future. He will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and intends to attend a walk-on tryout for the Cornhuskers. He’s not too concerned what position the team would ask him to play; he just wants to be a member of the legendary tradition in Lincoln.