Four grads have All-Star experience

Area standouts play final game for high schools

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Gladbrook-Reinbeck graduate Keagan Giesking, with ball, is congratulated by teammates including Grundy Center’s Wesley Willis (74) after recovering a fumble in the first quarter of Saturday’s Iowa Shrine Bowl football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Giesking’s North team defeated the South 52-24.

CEDAR FALLS — The Iowa Shrine Bowl gave four former area high school standouts the opportunity to put their old helmets on one last time, but the All Star Football Classic meant so much more to each of them.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck graduate Keagan Giesking and his high school head coach John Olson played a part in the North team’s 52-24 victory, while Marshalltown’s Aidan DeVolder, West Marshall’s Luke Pinnick and Meskwake Settlement School’s Taurice Grant did their part for the South squad on Saturday night at the UNI-Dome.

Giesking played linebacker and recovered a fumble for the North defense, which won despite allowing 511 yards of total offense. The red-clad North also forced five turnovers and got 470 yards out of its offensive unit, led by University of Iowa recruit Cooper DeJean of OABCIG (Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove) and future Northern Iowa Panthers Max White (Cedar Rapids Kennedy) and Aidan Dunne (Dubuque Hempstead).

Giesking, the only one of the four former local preps without future athletic aspirations, is family friends with a young Reinbeck boy who has benefitted from the generosity of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Lael, the son of Jeremy and Erica Thesing, was a preschool student of Keagan’s mother, Kristy, last year. Lael was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which refers to the development of multiple joint contractures affecting two or more areas of the body prior to birth, and he has received treatment and surgeries through Shriners Hospitals as far away as Philadelphia.

“It was fun to see how they help out the kids and what it does for the kids when we do this,” Giesking said. “It’s not about what it does for us, but what it does for the kids.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown High School graduate Aidan DeVolder blocks Wesley Willis of Grundy Center (74) during Saturday’s Iowa Shrine Bowl at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. DeVolder, who will play football for Grand View University in the fall, helped his South offense accumulate 511 yards of total offense in a 52-24 loss to the North.

Giesking, Olson and eighth-grade team manager Drew Eilers all participated in the Shrine Bowl in Lael’s honor.

“It’s just amazing how good kids can be to other kids,” Olson said. “They get to realize that just because that person’s not like you, you can help them. It’s a good experience. You come and hang out with the Shriners kids that aren’t well off, they don’t have what the rest of us have, and the coolest thing is seeing how our players react to those kids and just getting all that to mesh together and understand how important that is.

“It’s amazing what the Shriners do.”

The whole week was eye-opening for Grant, who was honored to be his school’s first representative in the Iowa Shrine Bowl. Grant played cornerback for the South squad in his final football game, as he will attend Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., to play basketball after previously considering a future of football at Iowa Western Community College.

“I can’t thank (Baxter head football coach) Rob Luther enough,” Grant said. “I met him about two years ago and him allowing me to have this opportunity and meeting the kids and being able to play football for the last time, I’m grateful for the opportunity.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Meskwaki Settlement School graduate Taurice Grant (13) lines up to defend Caiden Atienza of Maquoketa during Saturday’s Iowa Shrine Bowl in Cedar Falls.

“I knew I had this last game when I changed my path (from Iowa Western to Bacone) so I knew this was my final stop for football and I’m kind of glad it is because after a whole week of this and two-a-days and all that, I don’t think I could do the football thing another four years.”

Grant, like Giesking, was his 8-Man team’s starting quarterback in high school, but both played on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday night. Grant started at cornerback and had the highs and lows that come with the position. He was penalized once for defensive holding, but he also got the chance to lower the boom on a would-be receiver. A pass to the flat in front of Grant was late and too high for intended target Ashton VerDoorn of Sergeant Bluff-Luton, and Grant leveled the wideout as the ball arrived to prevent a potential reception.

“Some of the dogs out here, it’s just a whole different world, but I’m nothing but grateful to be able to see some of them and get to play against them because some of these guys will get to play in the NFL in a few years,” Grant said. “Going against them and playing with them, it’s crazy. I was a little nervous to see the guys across the line but I got my first hit and it was time to go.”

Both DeVolder and Pinnick played on the South squad’s offensive line, though never together. Pinnick, who will play at Northern Illinois, was a left tackle, while Grand View commit DeVolder played right tackle.

Neither were whistled for holding penalties in a game that saw just 10 penalties in all, but DeVolder and his linemates were called for a false start with the North going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The North ran DeVolder’s way on the next play, as quarterback Tate Stine-Smith of ADM wriggled his way into the end zone from 6 yards out.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - West Marshall graduate Luke Pinnick (79) blocks Michael Steffen of Cedar Rapids Xavier (51) during Saturday’s game.

“The defense was talking and we were supposed to go on the first sound, so that’s what got everyone,” DeVolder said of the illegal procedure penalty. “It’s definitely very competitive but at the end of the day it was for a good cause so we’re all happy about that.”

DeVolder hasn’t yet had the chance to meld with his future college teammates, so the chance to do so one last time as a Bobcat was a welcomed one.

“Everyone enjoyed everyone’s company, made really great friends this week, and it was just a blast,” he said. “It’s great to see all the different talent come together and play as one unit.”

The South rushed for 120 yards and threw for 391 more, but the turnovers proved too costly for the team dressed in blue.

Pinnick, who has already moved in at Northern Illinois, cherished the chance to put the matte black helmet on once again.


“It was great, it’s the world to me. I truly loved high school and just being able to put the helmet on one more time like a closer was just awesome to me,” Pinnick said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to come back. I had a lot of fun, a lot of good memories, friendships made, and overall it was a fun experience.”


The North team took the lead in the overall Shrine Bowl series, 24-23-1, after Saturday’s 49th annual event. Last year’s Iowa Shrine Bowl game was not played because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iowa Shrine Bowl

At Cedar Falls

North 52, South 24

Score by Quarters

North 14 10 7 21 — 52

South 7 3 7 7 — 24

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

N — Max White 49 pass from Cooper DeJean (Jason Topete kick), 13:14.

S — Trashaun Willis 1 run (Lennox Krell kick), 7:26.

N — White 2 run (Topete kick), 3:54.

Second Quarter

N — FG Topete 26, 13:27.

S — FG Krell 43, 5:21.

N — White 7 run (Topete kick), 1:37.

Third Quarter

S — Tate Stine-Smith 6 run (Krell kick), 3:03.

N — Shawonyta Norman 16 pass from Aidan Dunne (Topete kick), 1:55.

Fourth Quarter

N — Parker Rochford 52 pass from DeJean (Topete kick), 14:51.

S — Matthew Mahoney 22 pass from Willis (Krell kick), 12:59.

N — Norman 40 pass from DeJean (Topete kick), 10:31.

N — Stine-Smith 2 run (Topete kick), 5:02.


North South

First Downs 18 22

Rushes-yards 38-116 40-120

Passing yards 354 391

Comp-Att-Int 18-29-1 30-45-3

Total offense 67-470 85-511

Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2

Penalties-yards 5-35 5-42

Time of Poss. 28:44 29:47


RUSHING — North: Max White 15-48, Bricen White 8-29, DeJean 9-26, Dunne 6-13; South: Willis 13-50, Zach Brand 14-38, Sage Burns 7-14, Louis Brooks 2-11, Stine-Smith 3-7, Jordan Lawrence 1-0.

PASSING — North: DeJean 9-14-251-0, Dunne 9-15-103-1; South: Willis 20-24-252-2, Stine-Smith 10-20-139-0, Ethan Carlson 0-1-0-1.

RECEIVING — North: Norman 5-134, Max White 3-68, Rochford 2-65, Koby Beatty 1-35, Hunter Preston 3-17, Caiden Atienza 1-13, Ashton VerDoorn 1-10, Matt Christensen 1-8; South: Carlson 9-120, Mahoney 6-77, Cole Watts 2-55, Lawrence 2-52, Brooks 5-44, Andrew Lentsch 4-28, Brand 1-12, Brayden Wollan 1-3.


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