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Examiner
  • Former Bear relishes all-star berth

  • There are many stories that unfortunately will never be told as the Missouri All-Stars prepare for Thursday's Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game at Lee's Summit North High School.

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  • There are many stories that unfortunately will never be told as the Missouri All-Stars prepare for Thursday's Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game at Lee's Summit North High School.
    But a compelling one involving William Chrisman graduate Josh Gilliland is simply too good to pass up.
    “I first met Josh when I took Steven McBee to the McCarthy Auto Group Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Scholarship Banquet, because he and Steven both won scholarships,” said Missouri and Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz, who will try to keep Missouri's modest two-game winning streak alive in the summer classic, which starts at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
    “I thought, 'What a great kid. That's the type of kid I'd like to coach.' And here I am coaching him. You know, from a won-loss record, he didn't enjoy the type of success he'd hoped for over at Chrisman, but he learned so much about the game and about life from (Chrisman head football coach) John Crutcher that when we were talking about players for this game, I wanted him on my squad.”
    And now Gilliland, an Examiner All-Area offensive and defensive lineman, is set to play in the game that features the best from the Missouri side of the state line against the best from Kansas.
    “He's going to play some D-tackle and some three technique – he's so darned good, he can play just about anything we need,” Schartz added. “A kid like Josh could be overlooked because he didn't come from a team that won a lot of games, but we're sure happy to have him on our team.”
    McBee, who will play quarterback for the Missouri squad, agrees with his coach.
    “I knew all about Josh when he played at Chrisman because he was always trying to sack me,” said McBee, chuckling. “I really met him and got to know him at the scholarship banquet and I couldn't believe that a guy who was that aggressive on the football field could be so nice.
    “We kind of became friends and now we're teammates. He's the type of guy you want for a teammate in a game like this.”
    For Gilliland, the spot on the Missouri all-star roster is a dream come true.
    “My dad took me to the Missouri-Kansas all-star game back when I was a freshman,” Gilliland said at Tuesday's practice session. “I thought it would be so cool to play in the game, but I never thought it would happen.
    “I worked so hard for the next four years to try and earn a spot on the team, and when I got the call that I made it, I was just so happy. Playing against the best from Kansas, and being a teammate with the best from Missouri is like a dream come true for me.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Bears were 3-7 Gilliland's senior year, and gave him something to smile about by winning two of their last three games.
    “You don't think about all-star games when you're on a losing team, but I am really proud to be a Bear,” Gilliland explained. “I love my teammates and my school and our coaches. We worked so hard and we finally won a couple at the end of the season which was really important to me – especially since I'm a senior.
    “But we didn't win our last game. Only the guys from (Class 6 state champion) Blue Springs won their last game, so this game is really important to me. When I played for Chrisman, I never gave up – and neither did any of my teammates.
    “And that's the approach I'm going to take Thursday night. It will be fun to play alongside a guy you know can get the job done. All I'll have to think about Thursday is what I need to do to. I mean, this is a real team.
    “We've only had something like eight or nine practices, but we really are a team. We care about each other and we want to win the game for our teammates, our high schools and our state. Missouri has won the last two games and we want to make it three in a row, and with our talent and our coaches I think we have a good chance to do it.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
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