Kane Rust put a bow on his football career with a true All-Star performance.
During Saturday’s 67th annual East-West Shrine Game, Rust — a recent Philomath High School graduate — controlled the line of scrimmage and terrorized opposing quarterbacks in the West’s 43-10 victory in Baker City. The sturdy 5-foot-11, 240-pound interior defensive lineman unofficially recorded seven tackles and three sacks in a game featuring Oregon’s top graduated seniors from the 1A to 4A classifications.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Rust, who will attend Oregon State University this fall and major in engineering. “We had a great group of guys that were really hard workers and easy to get along with.”
After enduring endless trash talk from several East players all week in practice, the West team jumped out to a 30-0 halftime lead and didn’t let off the gas until late. Rust said the friendly banter provided ample motivation for the West.
“It was just a really intense game,” Rust said. “We had a lot of pressure going in because the East had been talking a lot of smack to us. Our entire team was just ready and it was infectious.”
The All-Star game is held every August at Baker High School’s Bulldog Stadium and serves as the biggest annual fundraiser for the Portland Shriners Hospital for Children. Rust and fellow participants visited the nonprofit hospital July 25 for a full tour.
“We got to see what they do,” Rust said. “It was really interesting because the Clemens family from Philomath is one of the lead donors to the hospital.”
The small-school football stars then headed east on Interstate 84 and spent nearly a week at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. Two-a-day practices allowed the players to develop chemistry and knock the rust off.
Rust roomed with Cascade’s Macoy Christman and Jake Whisman in the EOU dorms. The three bonded over their experiences playing in the Oregon West Conference.
“It was great,” said Rust, who was one of eight OWC representatives on the West roster. “We spent a lot of time making fun of each other for past plays and games, so that was really fun.”
Rust focused on the defensive side for the Shrine Game despite playing both ways at the high school level. He was a second-team all-OWC pick on the defensive line last fall while receiving honorable mention at guard. In 2017, Rust made first-team all-league on offense and defense.
More than just a football player, Rust also participated in the 4A state track meet as a thrower and wrestled until his senior year at Philomath.
“I’ll say my favorite sport is football just because that’s the game I played (Saturday),” Rust said. “But probably football. The thing I’ll remember most about sports is that game.”
The Shrine Game has become a family affair for the Rusts.
Hunter Rust, Kane’s older brother, played in the 2016 contest after graduating from Philomath. The brothers’ dad, grandfather and grand uncle were also All-Star selections out of different schools.
“It was pretty cool,” Rust said of continuing the family tradition. “But I’m the first to play for the West.”
Rust thought about continuing his football career in college but decided to pursue academics instead. He plans to try out for Oregon State’s rugby team while studying engineering, either environmental or new energies.
“I don’t have any experience with rugby but I’ve watched it quite a bit,” Rust said. “It just seemed like something interesting that could keep me in shape. It incorporates the parts of football I’m good at, because I could never throw a football for anything.”
The Shrine Game helped Rust salvage a senior football season that was frustrating at times.
Philomath won its first two nonconference games but ended the regular season on a six-game skid — including three tight losses — to miss the playoffs. Luckily for Rust, there was one more football game to play.
“We didn’t make the playoffs and we lost a lot of games we probably should’ve won due to weird mistakes,” Rust said. “The Shrine made me happy with how I’m ending my football career.”
A replay of the Shrine Game aired on ROOT Sports Network Monday night. Showings are also scheduled for Thursday (midnight, 7:30 p.m.), Aug. 18 (2 a.m.), Aug. 21 (10:30 p.m.) and Aug. 24 (12:30 p.m.)