Hunter Ramirez has spent the past week and a half bonding with his new Missouri All-Star teammates – and his roommate when he arrives at Northwest Missouri State University this fall.

Ramirez, a tight end from Grain Valley High School, received a bit of a bonus when he arrived for the first day of practice as he discovered Harrisonville running back Mason Saffels was also a member of the Missouri team.

“We talked during basketball season about going to Northwest Missouri State,” said Ramirez, who will join his fellow all-stars in the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Football Game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Blue Springs High School’s Peve Stadium.

“Mason and I didn’t really know anyone else at Northwest so we decided to be roommates. It’s been great getting to know him – and the rest of my Missouri teammates – at practices. We’re really becoming a team. And all we're thinking about is Thursday night’s game.”

A Missouri win Thursday night and the all-time record between the two rival states will be evened up at 11 wins apiece.

“We could be part of history,” Ramirez said before a recent practice session at Raytown South High School. “It’s our last high school game and we could be remembered as the team that evened the series. And that’s important to us. It’s something we've talked about this week at practice.”

And while the game takes center stage, Ramirez will never forget what it was like to be part of the best the state has to offer.

“I’m bigger than some of the linemen on our Grain Valley team,” said Ramirez, a tight end who is equally effective catching the ball and blocking. “When I walked into the locker room the first time, I couldn’t believe how big some of our linemen were.

“We’ve got guys who are 280 or 290 pounds – and they can fly. They’re just great athletes, and I know I better bring my ‘A’ game to every practice or I’m going to spend a lot of time on the sidelines Thursday night. You can take one guy off the field, replace him with another player, and you don’t skip a beat. Anyone can be out there, and we don’t miss anything. I’ve never surrounded by this much talent, and it’s pretty cool to be a part of.”

While the Eagles finished Ramirez’s senior year with a 4-6 record, the future Northwest Missouri Bearcat said he wouldn’t trade his time at Grain Valley High School.

“I met great people, worked with great coaches and had fun,” Ramirez said. “Practicing with the all-stars kind of gets me ready for college, because we never had practices at Grain Valley like we’ve had with the all-stars.

“But I really enjoyed playing at Grain Valley and being a part of the high school. Now, I’ve got the chance to win my last high school game and that’s my No. 1 goal. It’s the only goal we have as a team, and I think we’re going to do it, I really do. We have so much talent it’s just unbelievable.”