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Pony teammates suit up one more time

 

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Mitch Schnittgen and Will DeVries have starred on the gridiron together many times during their four-year career as Havre Blue Pony football players.

And as both star athletes prepare to suit up for what will be their final high school football game, both Schnittgen and DeVries know what an honor it is to be playing side by side in the 64th annual Montana East/West Shrine Game in Butte on Saturday.

Schnittgen was selected as a defensive tackle and DeVries was selected as an offensive guard.

"It's one of those things you look forward to your entire football career," DeVries said from the East team's training camp in Billings earlier this week.

"This is a great honor," Schnittgen added. "When I was selected it was one of the greatest things I had accomplished.

None of my family had ever been selected to play and it's one of those things I had been hoping to be selected for since I was a freshman." Schnittgen comes from a football family. His father and two brothers all played the sport and played it well. And to be selected when they weren't, Schnittgen just hopes to cap off a great high school career and propel himself into what will be a productive college career. Schnittgen is headed to Montana Tech to play for the Orediggers this fall.

"This is my last high school game ever," Schnittgen said.

"And I just hope to end it on a high note." Preparation for the 64-year old tradition has been somewhat easy for the former Havre High big men.

DeVries has been signed to play football by Carol College and Schnittgen by Tech. Both have been heavily involved with their regular college workouts and will just have to refocus their concentration for one last game at the high school level.

"My workouts have helped me along and prepared me," Schnittgen said.

And DeVries got a little extra help when he played in the 2010 Badlands Bowl just last month.

"That has helped me out a lot," DeVries said.

"There were a couple of teammates there that are on this team too and it helped me get back into lineman shape." A lot of the Shrine Game is about going out and having fun.

And while that holds true for DeVries and Schnittgen, they still want to do whatever they can do to ensure an East victory. On defense Schnittgen will be looking to come up with big stops and tackles.

And on offense DeVries will be looking to keep his team on top by helping to put the ball in the end zone.

This will mark the last time the two good friends play for the same cause. Though they are on opposite sides of the ball, they will both play for the same ultimate goal, a Shrine Game win.

But in just a short while, the same can't be said when Schnittgen and DeVries take the field together.

"It will be one last time playing alongside an old teammate before I am playing against him in a couple of years," Schnittgen said.

"This is our last game where we are best buds," DeVries laughingly added. "After this we become rivals playing with Carroll and Montana Tech. It's always a competition and we are always trying to beat each other, but it's always good competition." Schnittgen and DeVries are now part of a long-standing tradition of Havre players selected to play in the oldest-running all-star football game in western U.S. The list of Blue Ponies to play in the summer classic is long and distinguished.

And just down the road, another pair of teammates were also selected to play in Saturday's game, but only one will be on the field. Big Sandy's Taylor Ophus, who will join Schnittgen at Tech this fall, will play on the defensive line for the East.

Fellow Pioneer teammate Blake Brumwell was selected to the East team as a tight end, but isn't listed on the updated East roster.

Havre will also be well represented on the sidelines Saturday night. Blue Pony cheerleader Shaena Boucher was selected to cheer on the East squad Saturday night. Being selected to the Shrine Game's cheerleading squad is a huge honor for any high school cheerleader.

The 64th annual Shrine Game will take place on Saturday night in Butte.

 
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