No, the score at the end of the game wasn’t exactly what the Wyoming fans were hoping for, but that’s not the memory that Asa Eldredge will hold onto from the 6-Man Shootout in Nebraska on July 23.
“In the middle of the game, the scoreboard went out,” the recent Meeteetse graduate said. “The fuses or something blew out. So they were playing music over the speakers and had both sides of the ball dancing. Everyone was in high spirits no matter what the score was. That’s what football is all about to me, to give some hope to people in these trying times. That’s a moment I won’t forget.”
The 6-Man Shootout is a decade-long tradition, bringing together the best 6-man football players in Wyoming and Nebraska for one last hurrah to end their high school careers. Though Wyoming lost 52-25, the Cowboy State still controls the all-time series with a 5-4 record.
Even getting to play in another football game was important for Eldredge.
“It was really amazing to be selected by the coaches even though I didn’t make the All-State team,” he said. “It was more about true athletic ability and not what your stats were or who your parents were.”
The game was played in Harrison, Neb., a town not unlike Meeteetse with a population of around 225 and some small mountains looming nearby. Just having the game was a big deal to the people there, and they let Eldredge and his family know.
“We went to the local bar and grill and locals were saying thank you for playing the game,” Eldredge said. “You don’t realize how much sports play into people’s lives until it all gets taken away.”
Parents and families watched in pods along the sidelines, setting up chairs with the proper social distance between groups. Players could only bring along four family members, and had their temperatures checked before game time.
“You know, it’s hard to say a game was fun, especially when you lose like that,” Eldredge said. “But I had a smile on my face the entire time I was playing those Nebraska boys … I was thinking, ‘This could be my last time playing, so just give 100%. Everyone out there was giving 100% and I really appreciated that.”
Though he practiced with the team for just a few days, the coaching staff impressed Eldredge.
“I felt like I had played and been coached by them all four years in just the three days I spent with them,” he said. “I came away learning a lot. Not just football, but life lessons. That’s what I play for, to learn those life lessons. The coaches instilled great life lessons into all of us.”
Eldredge’s football career isn’t ending with the loss in the 6-Man Shootout. He’ll be attending Mississippi College in the fall to play football and pursue a kinesiology degree.
The transition from six-man football to the 11-man game may tough at first, but like the coaches at the Shootout, the coaching staff at MC has been great for Eldredge.
“At first it was daunting,” Eldredge said of trying to learn the 11-man game. “It felt like I was spinning around in place ... I’ve had a lot of support from the coaches there, sending me film. Now I feel like I have a good handle on it and I haven’t even stepped on the field.”