East coach Blake Pierce of Seaman won't have to look far to find a defensive stopper for the 2007 Kansas Shrine Bowl. He'll have a member of his high school team's arch-rival on his side in the person of Topeka Hayden's Ryan Geist (5'11", 215 pounds), an all-Centennial League defensive player who earned the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors. Geist was a first-team all-state selection at middle linebacker by the Topeka Capital Journal. On offense, Geist led all Topeka schools with 1,105 yards rushing in his senior campaign.
But make no mistake. Geist sees his future on the defensive side of the ball, as a middle linebacker. "It's my passion," he says. "I love playing defense, and I love playing middle linebacker."
Geist joins a long list of players selected from tradition-rich Hayden, a school that ranks near the top all-time in the number of players selected to play in the annual All-Star classic. Geist becomes the 20th Hayden player to participate in the Shrine Bowl since 1994, a string of 14 years that has seen one or more Wildcats on Shrine Bowl rosters. Overall, Hayden has sent a whopping 29 players to the Shrine Bowl, including Geist's uncle, Joe Geist, who played in the second Shrine Bowl game in 1975.
Geist plans to play college football in his hometown. He's a Washburn signee, and is participating in off-season workouts at WU. But he's doing more than just prepare for football during the off-season. For the past four summers, he's run his own business, a highly successful lawn mowing business that not only makes
money for him, but for at least two other students that he employs. A neighbor who had the business passed it onto Geist after his freshman year in high school, and the business has expanded from there. He has
his own equipment, including a riding mower, and "8 or 9 regular customers." "There's another 10 or so that will call from week to week," he says. "We also do other jobs, such as clean gutters and trim hedges."
The business is fitting in well with his preseason workouts at Washburn, especially the early-morning sessions. "It's perfect," he says. "I can do the workout, then go to work on my schedule."
As for the Shrine Bowl, Geist says he can't wait to participate in the All-Star game. He's looking forward to playing with players that he's both played against in the past, and others who will be teammates on the college level. "I've been working out and hanging out this summer with Marty Pfannenstiel (Silver Lake) at Washburn", he says. "And it will be fun playing with, instead of against, Max Adame and Miguel Aponte (Seaman)". The Hayden-Seaman rivalry is generally considered one of the most spirited in Topeka, and for that matter, the entire state.
Proceeds from the event support the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 hospitals that provide expert, no-cost orthopedic and burn care to children under 18. Children are admitted totally free to Shriners Hospitals for Children without regard for race, religion, nationality, creed, or relationship to a Shriner.
The 2007 Kansas Shrine Bowl will be the most family-friendly ever, with several events taking place during the day. Planned events include a 5K Run for Charity, a day-long Arts and Crafts Fair, a Kid's Fair, the annual Kansas Shrine Bowl Parade, a high school football combine, and a Charity Poker Run that will include cash and prizes.
Advance reserved chairback tickets for the all-star game are $20.00 in advance, $21.00 on game night. Adult general admission tickets are $9.00 in advance, $10.00 on game night. Student tickets (K-12) are $5.00 in advance, $6.00 on game night. Banquet tickets are $20.00, and must be purchased in advance. Additional information and tickets can be purchased through the Shrine Bowl office by calling 1-800-530-5524.