OSHKOSH, Wis. - All four years as a Papermaker, Alec Rosner was a WIAA state champion in football. But the two-way Kimberly star will play basketball at Winona State, so this week's practices ahead of Saturday's Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-Star Classic are an opportunity to relish the last time he'll be putting on pads.
Many of the 90 other senior all-stars on the North large and small school teams are saying a bittersweet goodbye to high school football, too.
"Last time we all get to play. Everyone wants to make it special and everyone wants to make it their best last game," said former Bay Port quarterback Isaac Krause. "Also some of these guys are going on to play college, so that's good for them. Me personally, I'm going to go to (University of Wisconsin at) Madison. I'm not going to play, so I really want to make this special and have a good time this week."
"Probably the last time ever putting pads on, you know?" Rosner said. "It's a good way to end things after a good high school season. So just one last time coming out here for a week with all these guys and getting to know them will be a lot of fun."
For the past four years, many of these high school football players were foes and even rivals on the gridiron, but this week, they've learned to practice and play for the same teams.
"It was a little strange at first, especially seeing some of the Wrightstown guys or Little Chute guys or Berlin (players)," said former Fox Valley Lutheran running back Zayne Rodencal. "Seeing them in the same uniform, I guess it doesn't really make a difference anymore now that high school's over."
"It's awesome coming out here, playing with all the guys you've competed with, like you said, the last four years," Rosner said. "The best part is it's all for a great cause, so that's awesome and just coming out here and competing is just fun to get back on the football field."
Proceeds from the all-star events have gone to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for the last 15 years, raising nearly $4 million to benefit patient care programs, according to event organizers.
Divisions 4-7 will play together as small schools Saturday at 1:30, with D1-3 playing together as large schools after that at 5.