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June 13, 2013 9:39 am

Trio of Panthers shines at Shrine

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Three former Powell Panther football standouts joined together one last time to shut down an opposing offense Saturday afternoon in Casper.

Recent Powell High School grads Tyler Patterson, Dewey Schwahn and Vince Sleep each played an integral role in the 40th annual Shrine Bowl, Wyoming’s high school football all-star game, helping the North squad blow out the South 34-6.

“It was a dream come true,” Schwahn said. “To go out like we did, 34-6, just spanking that team.”

As they often did during their back-to-back class 3A championship seasons, the defensive trio helped to smother ball carriers and create turnovers on the way to an easy victory.

Each Powell representative started and played the majority of the 60-minute game.

Sleep provided Powell’s highlight when, in the third quarter, he stripped and recovered a ball and returned it to the South’s 18-yard line.

While Sleep was at home playing linebacker, Patterson and Schwahn played out of position but held their own against the best skill-position players the state has to offer.

The North defense’s three-man front forced Patterson — a 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive end — inside to do battle with much bigger offensive guards.

Schwahn, a star wide receiver for PHS, played cornerback for the North. A torn ACL forced him out of his usual defensive position for the latter half of his senior season, but a knee brace allowed him to continue playing wide receiver.

“It was a really cool experience to switch things up,” Schwahn said. “I loved every minute of it.”

With the game well in hand at 34-0 in the fourth quarter, Sleep said the North’s defense was still playing hard for the shutout.

The South finally got on the board with 8:48 left in the game.

“It was actually kind of upsetting when we let them score,” Sleep said.

But the real emotions came out during an intimate moment after the game.

After the on-field celebrations were over and all the pictures had been taken, the North players returned to their locker room, where some would be removing their pads for the final time. When Riverton’s T.J. Galey handed Schwahn his eye black in the North locker room, Schwahn knew he was holding something he no longer had any use for.

Schwahn said he is “hanging up his cleats, hanging up the towel” but thought his eye black should still be put to good use.

“This is my last game, so I said ‘You guys keep it and think of me whenever you put it on,’” Schwahn said.

For Sleep, the gesture struck him like he had struck so many ball carriers.

“I kind of had a sad moment,” Sleep said. “That hit me hard.”

Sleep said he entered the Shrine Bowl with some trepidation, but quickly grew comfortable with his temporary team.

“At first I was insanely shy and I was intimidated (by) the 4A kids, but it turned out being the best week I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

Sleep used the opportunity to play with and against class 4A players to evaluate himself before he moves on to play at Colorado Mesa University.

“From my perspective I competed pretty well with them,” he said.

Schwahn said he enjoyed sharing a field with so many high-caliber players.

“Everyone that was there was chosen for a reason. The skill level was outstanding,” Schwahn said.

Schwahn enjoyed the competition even though the 4A guys brought a little something extra with them.

“Those guys are hitting us a lot harder than we are used to,” Schwahn said.

Schwahn said he was happy he was able to finish his football career alongside his Panther teammates.

“It was a blessing playing with those guys,” he said. “It was a true honor and I just hope God blesses them with whatever they do after this.”

The Shrine Bowl gave Sleep a chance to play with future CMU Maverick teammates Colter Bentley and Adam Britton, both of Natrona County High School.

It was great “going to battle with all those guys and bonding,” Sleep said.

Patterson, who was unavailable for comment due to work commitments, passed on a few sentiments through his father, Dave. Tyler will attend Casper College to study fire science, according to his father.

Tyler was proud of the way the Panthers represented Powell, a statement Dave wholeheartedly supported.

Schwahn said he will go to Northwest College for two years and then apply elsewhere to study dental hygiene.

Earlier in the week, players from both sides traveled to the Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City to visit with ill children. Dave said that trip put life in a new perspective for Tyler.

Each player’s family was in attendance at Natrona County High School Stadium.

“It was really cool having my brother (former Panther and 2012 PHS grad Keithen Schwahn) able to watch me one last time,” Schwahn said.

Two North players brought home the game’s individuals trophies. Natrona’s Brecken Biggs was named the offensive MVP and Collin Eisenman of Sheridan was named defensive MVP.

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