SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Will Boswell was a late addition to the 18th annual Sertoma Grin Iron Classic.
But once the annual football all-star game got underway, it didn’t take long for the Mount Vernon product to make his presence felt.
Boswell scored the first touchdown of the game, and the East squad never looked back in a 47-29 win over the West on Friday night at JFK Stadium.
The annual event featuring the top recently graduated seniors from Southwest Missouri benefits the Ronald McDonald House Tooth Truck, which provides dental care for children in need.
Boswell, who scored a pair of touchdowns, admitted he was definitely pleased he decided to participate.
“At first I had the wrong date, so I told them I couldn’t play,” Boswell said. “Then I found I could play on Monday about two hours before practice.”
Capping his team’s opening drive of the night, Boswell charged in from six yards out to get the East on the board.
The state’s all-time leader in tackles who is headed to Northwest Missouri, Boswell had nine carries in the first half alone and then caught a pass in the third quarter before leaping over a defender.
Boswell’s 57-yard sprint to the end zone gave the East the final margin with 11:48 left in the game.
“It was nice to go out with a bang and end with a win,” Boswell said. “It was fun to do this with guys I’ve always played against. It was nice to be on the same side for once. I enjoyed it.”
Taking home Most Valuable Player honors for the East were Springfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley (offense) and Camdenton lineman Kylan Draper (defense).
Riley ran for two first-half touchdowns and passed for another as the East built a comfortable 33-15 halftime advantage.
“Tyson and I grew up together and are actually neighbors,” Boswell said. “It was great to get to be on his team for once.”
The West’s MVPs were Parkview wide receiver Tyrone Newburn (offensi) and Neosho linebacker Tre’Von Letts (defense).
Newburn caught two touchdown passes, while Letts wreaked havoc defensively, forcing a fumble along the way.
“It’s pretty cool because all these guys are all-stars,” Letts said. “Playing in this game was awesome. I’ve always wanted to play with guys like (Alex) Gaskill (of Webb City). To finally to do it and be out here with all these guys was amazing.”
ONE LAST TD
Zeke Sappington connected with Jayden Morgan over the middle one last time.
With that, the recently graduated seniors from Carthage High School contributed nicely to the East squad’s win.
“It was fun,” Sappington said. “We knew it had been awhile since the East had won.”
Sappington completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Morgan during the third period in one of the game’s highlight-reel plays.
“Me and Zeke have great chemistry,” Morgan said. “He threw it up and I had to go up and get it. It was a lot of fun. We came out and showed what we can do.”
“That’s what Jayden does,” Sappington said. “That was all him. It was special. It’s something I won’t forget.”
Morgan also had a 39-yard run in the opening frame that set up Boswell’s first score.
Webb City’s Jacob Monroe hauled in a 2-point conversion pass at the end of the first half.
Webb City’s Grant Burkett made a PAT kick, Alex Gaskill of Webb City recorded six tackles, including one for loss, while Neosho’s Kipp Box and Carthage’s Mason Bryant both recorded sacks and Cassville’s Shannon Haney ran for a 2-point conversion.
Joplin’s Nic Lewis, Jack Myers, Dylan Wemer and Jadyn Withrow suited up for the East, while Carl Junction’s Tyler White and Webb City’s Matt Miller were others on the West.
Nevada’s Wes Beachler was an assistant coach with the West, and he was able to coach his son Trey one last time.
A number of local volleyball players will participate in today’s Grin Action Classic at Parkview High School.