Local Football Players Prepare for WFCA All-Star Classic

Published 07/18 2013 06:39PM

Updated 07/18 2013 06:43PM

Some of our area's finest high school senior football players from last season have been practicing in smoldering temperatures this past week preparing for the 37th annual WFCA All-Star Classic Saturday at UW-Oshkosh.

It may not sound like an ideal ways to spend part of the summer, but these soon to be college students see the silver lining.

"The main thing was to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin," says former Kimberly QB Ben Diedrick who will play at St. Cloud State next season.  "That's the number one reason why I signed up and wanted to do this and I am pretty sure that's why everyone else wanted to do it.  We raise a great amount of money for this."

Last year a record of $369,720 was raised for Children's Hospital and organizers say this year will top that.

It's a cause close to Waupaca Grad Beau Ash's heart.  His older brother went through the Children's hospital network, but this week also serves another purpose for the future UW-Oshkosh running back.

"It's really cool just getting that first grabs on the field, first grabs at the campus," Ash said.  "Just going around and having fun with the guys.  It's giving me a really good start to see what the college life is going to be like."

Most of the players practicing at Titan Stadium this week are also preparing for college football careers, but that's not the case for Preble grad Jake Wallenfang.  Wallenfang was headed to Michigan Tech to play football, but after a record-setting performance at the WIAA State Track and Field Meet, he was offered a chance to run sprints and pole vault at the University of Wisconsin.

"I didn't realize until last month that this would be my last football game," Wallenfang said while getting a little choked up.  "It's going to be tough walking off the field, taking off the shoulder pads for the last time, but you can't play football forever.  It's going to be tough; I love everything about football.  It will definitely be tough to give it up, there will be tears, I will tell you that."

It's that passion for the game that was another huge push for players like Wallenfang to participate in the All-Star Games Saturday, even if that means teaming with former rivals..

"You grow up four years disliking everyone that doesn't have the same sticker as you,"

says Diedrick.  "Then all of the sudden that sticker is on your helmet."

"We're supposed to hate Southwest, we're supposed to hate De Pere," adds Wallenfang.   "Now I have a De Pere sticker on my helmet.  It's fun to come down here to see enemies become friends and work together."

Despite the torrid temperatures that former Green Bay Southwest cornerback Bryan Tomaszewski described as "awful," putting in all this effort for charity makes it worthwhile for everyone involved.

"We know what's at stake and we know what we're doing it for," Tomaszewski said.

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