Free State senior chosen to play in Kansas high school all-stars game


Caitlin Dodd

After the Firebirds score a touchdown, senior Bryce Torneden celebrates with a fist pump.

After his strong final season as quarterback, senior Bryce Torneden has been invited to play in the annual Kansas Shrine Bowl. The Shrine Bowl is a game with team rosters of the best high schoolers, selected by coaches and the Bowl committee, in the state of Kansas.

“The Kansas Shrine Bowl is known because we are the biggest all-star game in the state of Kansas,” Kansas Shrine Bowl executive director Sarah Van Petten said. “Our game is designed to not only showcase local talent, but to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.”

Acknowledging both the charitable aspect and the fame of the game, Torneden said he was honored for many reasons.

It was definitely a humbling feeling when I found out I was chosen just because of the importance of the game and all that the game stands for,” Torneden said. “[It’s] for the children that don’t get the opportunity to do everyday things like we do.”

The selection process includes coaches nominations, which take into account how players represent their communities. Other requirements include an athlete playing in at least four games during their senior year and graduating on time.

“Next, all nominations are sent to Kansas media, who will vote on their top team,” Van Petten said. “Ballots are sent back to the Shrine Bowl office where we document votes.”

A final selection committee then reviews votes, and the top player for each position for each team is selected.

Several current and past NFL players have competed in the Shrine Bowl, including Barry Sanders, Jordy Nelson and Terrace Newman.

The Firebirds had a rough start to their season, going 0-3. After their third loss playing against LHS, the team came together stronger than ever.  

“Everyone counted us out after that rough start [to the season],” Torneden said. “After that game we kinda came together more instead of clashing one another and being individuals.”

Torneden plans on playing football at North Dakota State next year and majoring in sports management.

“I think I’m most looking forward to just being in a new environment,” he said. “I feel like my time in high school was a lot of the same routine, which is no one’s fault but my own, so I’m hoping college will be different.”

Head football coach Robert Lisher noted Torneden’s work ethic and determination through high school. The team’s star quarterback, Torneden helped the Firebirds finish 8-4 and to reach the state semi-finals.

“I expect him to have nothing but success not only athletically but in life,” Lisher said. “He has the drive and work ethic that will enable him to succeed. I look forward to following him not only in college, but after college as well.”