Rivals team up in Shrine game

Pilot Rock's Chance Bandy is taken down in a game against Elgin this past fall.<BR><I>EO file photo</I>

BAKER CITY - For the past week, usual rivals Chance Bandy from Pilot?Rock and Heppner head coach Greg Grant had a chance to see what life would be like playing on the same sideline.

With Grant making his fifth appearance on the coaching staff for the East-West Shrine Game and Bandy earning a roster spot after a great senior campaign, one of Eastern Oregon's most prevalent rivalries was put on hold for at least one week.

"I've been around Chance all week and I've really enjoyed having him on my side," Grant said. "I've known all along what a great person Chance was. He's a team guy, he's a hard worker and he's kind of won everybody over with the fact he always has a smile on his face and a tremendously positive attitude."

Grant, who has worked with the special teams and defensive backs, still enjoys the week-long practice sessions and getting the chance to coach with other standouts from the state of Oregon, including this year's head coach Monte Nash. Nash retired at the end of last year after leading Grant Union to a state title.

"It's always a great experience to work with such fine athletes and great kids," Grant said. "This year may have exceeded my expectations how they've performed on and off the field. On the character side of things, they've just made our week. It's one that we as coaches will remember forever."

Grant doesn't see why the former Rocket, who played quarterback and linebacker/safety on defense, won't have a stand-out game today at the Shriner's All-Star game in Baker City.

Bandy ran the Pilot Rock offense like the true veteran he was, throwing for 1,756 yards, rushing for 751 more and scoring a combined 29 touchdowns.

Defensively, he aspired to be one of the hardest hitters in the state, saying after the season, "Laying a big hit is more exciting than scoring a touchdown to me."

Joining Bandy for the East team is Umatilla graduate Josh Wilson. Wilson was a first-team All-Eastern Oregon League offensive tackle and added 57 tackles and five sacks as a defensive end.

Wilson was a captain his senior year and was a late addition to the East team's roster.

"I think the kids have fit in very well here," Grant said. "I think they've really enjoyed their week."

Not making the trip with his coach was Heppner's Sam King, who could not attend the game. His accolades were numerous as well, earning first-team All-Blue Mountain Conference defensive lineman as a senior for the Mustangs.

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