It’s not very often a first year head coach gets a coaching nod in the annual Kansas Shrine Bowl. For Andover Central’s Derek Tuttle, he will put himself in the unique class on Saturday.
After leading the Jaguars to a 12-2 season in his first year, including an appearance in the Class 4A State Championship Game, Tuttle is blessed to be back on the field.
"It’s been a great experience," Tuttle said. "From the relationship to the Shriner’s and to the hospital, the experience has been really impactful."
He’ll be joined by his defensive superstar in Trey DeGarmo. After teammate Xavier Bell stepped away from the Shrine Bowl to avoid injury as he is going to play basketball at Drexel University next season, DeGarmo was an easy choice for the replacement.
"To get to go out there and play one more football game means the world to me," DeGarmo said.
DeGarmo becomes the Andover Central play to participate in the Shrine Bowl since Tyler Harris in 2015. He becomes only the sixth player in school history to earn the honor of a Shrine Bowl participant.
He’s not alone. DeGarmo is joined by his long distance cousin. Hadley Panzer, a lineman from Lakin, Kansas joins the West squad. Having a family member has been great for DeGarmo.
"We had met once when I was really little," DeGarmo said. "We’ve been hanging out. It is cool to get to do that with a family member here."
Tuttle when asked about DeGarmo raves about such a good person he is. To the point he recommended DeGarmo for the Billy Snyder Scholar Athlete award in June.
"I mainly coach offense for our team so this has been about the same for me and Trey," Tuttle said. "It’s been great watching him grow with the guys on our team, forming those relationships."
The Shrine Bowl officials have been taking the event very seriously and it does not go unnoticed. From wearing masks to isolating the teams so there are not any clusters before the game.
"They’ve done a good job of making sure we get to play the game," DeGarmo said.
One more game for DeGarmo in his career before he heads off to Arkansas City to play baseball for Cowley.
"It’s great having guys who know what to do when asked and you’re not having to coach up your inexperienced guys," Tuttle said. "You just go out and play football at this point."
"If you tell a guy to do this, he’s does it," DeGarmo said. "Having a guy be able to just take what you’re saying and apply it so quickly is a change. "
After playing summer baseball on all-star teams, for DeGarmo it may not be that much of a change.
"This is just a small step before college," DeGarmo said. "These guys were the best on their teams and it’s something we’ll see when move onto the next level."
The Shrine Bowl is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Hummer Park in Topeka.
"To be able to represent Andover Central means the world to me," DeGarmo said. "To have coach Tuttle by my side if I have any questions is great."