It's football season again for Scappoose's Connor McNabb.
And, starting next week, it'll be all about football as the Indians star goes from four-sport high school star to one-sport focus (maybe two, track and field included) at Linfield College in McMinnville.
McNabb, coming off the track and field and baseball seasons at Scapppose High, is getting his football legs back as he prepares for the annual Les Schwab Tires Bowl, an all-star game Saturday night, June 15 at Hillsboro Stadium.
He was one of 35 players chosen to play for the South as it takes on the North — one day after his graduation from Scappoose.
"I'm in really good shape. Been working out twice a day and running (pass) routes at Linfield and doing some seven-on seven stuff. It should be great. I'm real excited," he says about the opportunity to take part in the game. "I always wanted to be part of that."
Older brother Brennen played in the East-West Shrine All-Star game that took place and is still held in Baker City, and his father, Scappoose Indians football coach Sean McNabb, has coached in that game.
"I've been around that atmosphere, so I understand what the game is all about," Connor says.
The Baker City version of the All-Star game is for smaller (Class 1A to 4A) schools — but with Scappoose's rise this year to 5A, Connor McNabb will be with all of the big boys, as the Les Schwab Tires Bowl is for athletes from 6A and 5A schools.
"I don't really know anybody that's going to be there, other than some guys we played against like (quarterback) Nathan Overholt of Wilsonville — I played seven-on-seven with him last spring," Connor McNabb says.
Overholt led Wilsonville to the 5A championship game, where the Wildcats lost 30-27 to Thurston to finish 12-1
"He can fling that ball wherever he wants," McNabb says.
Another Wildcat, receiver/defensive back Jonah Gomez, was on the same seven-on-seven offseason team, too.
McNabb (who also earned a letter in swimming) starred on both sides of the ball in football for Scappoose, earning all-5A Special District 1 honors as a running back, defensive back and kick returner. So he could play a lot of roles for the South, and next week's camp will help determine how he can best help the squad.
"To play some offense would be cool, and returning kicks would be, too, but I'll play wherever they need me to play," he says. "I know they have a lot of guys who can play anywhere."
Thurston's Justin Stark is the South head coach this year. His six-man staff of assistants includes two head coaches whose teams played Scappoose this season: Eric Davis of Pendleton and Adam Guenther of Wilsonville.
The All-Star showcase began in 1948 and has had various names, beginning with and for nearly 50 years well-known as the Shrine Game. For years, it was City vs. State, then State vs. Metro. Crowds of more than 20,000 came to then-Multnomah Stadium (now Providence Park) for what was one of the marquee events of the year, packed with future college stars.
Les Schwab Tires got on board in 1998 and helped nurture the game through some financial and attendance challenges, as the high school and college football landscape changed significantly along with fans' viewing habits.
But several things have been constant — the event's commitment to raise money for charity, the honor for players to represent their schools and hometowns and the competitiveness of the game.
After 71 battles, the North leads the series 34-33, with four ties.
The teams will live and train next week at Pacific University in Forest Grove.
Photos in uniform are taken Monday before dinner. Then it's off to the meeting rooms at 5 p.m., and to the practice field for the first South workout at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday, the South practices at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The North goes at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. After dinner on campus is Movie Night for both squads.
Wednesday's South practices are slated for 10 am. and 3 p.m., right after the North's 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions. Dinner includes a wing eating contest — North vs. South — at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Thursday starts with more football; the South practices at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Buses wlll take the players to Big Al's for Entertainment Night.
On Friday, the teams will practice once each, with the South scheduled for 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. It will be the final tuneup for the game. At night, the players will visit the St. Mary's Home for Boys in Beaverton, then attend the Les Schwab Tires Bowl Banquet near Hillsboro Stadium.
Game day starts with a South walk-through at 9 a.m. Gates to Hillsboro Stadium open at 4 p.m., with the Rick's Custom Fencing & Decking Fan Fest.
The 6 p.m. game will be broadcast live on radio by KFXX (1080 AM).
Last year, the North outscored the South 14-0 in the fourth quarter to secure a 24-7 victory before 6,444 fans at Hillsboro Stadium.
The MVP was Grant High's Grant Ewell Jr., whose 71-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the second quarter and subsequent two-point conversion catch gave the North the lead for good at 8-7.
The South won the year before, taking the 2017 game 10-7 at Hillsboro Stadium.
"I looked at the rosters — there's going to be lots of good competition," McNabb said. "It'll be a good matchup, I think."
The North has players from all the big 6A football programs — Lake Oswego, Jesuit, Clackamas, West Linn and Central Catholic, among others.
At least in theory, that should make the South a clear underdog.
McNabb said he wouldn't be surprised if the South uses that line of public thinking as a motivational approach for the June 15 game.
"I think so," he said, "although I feel like no one can really be underdogs because it's an all-star game."
He'll find out when he gets to the South camp what jersey number he'll wear in the game.
Players get to ask for a specific number, but there is a priority system.
"Fingers crossed, I'm hoping for 44," he says, of the number he wore for the Indians. "I don't think there are a lot of 44s out there."
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