2024 senior class shines at 47th annual Al Aska Shriners Football Classic

Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 10:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a state as large as Alaska, it’s rare to see the best sports talent all in one place. That’s what made the 47th annual Al Aska Shriners Football Classic so spectacular.

Sponsored by Shriners Hospitals and Clinics, Alaska’s top football stars from as far north as Utqiagvik and as south as Juneau packed The Dome in Anchorage to lace up their cleats and buckle that chin strap for the final time as high school players.

In front of parents, coaches, and fans alike, emotions were everywhere to be seen.

“I was just mostly excited to play this game ... growing up hearing about it, having teammates playing in this game, I always wanted to play in it and I finally got to do it,” Service High quarterback Jonathon Tautua said.

That excitement turned into an MVP-worthy performance that included three touchdowns — two of which going to former Athlete of the Week selection Austin Johnson — and some flashy passing later lead Tautua and his squad to a 27-6 victory over team Silver.

All proceeds from the game go to Shriners hospitals and clinics around the nation, with the majority of that staying in-state to be used for patient transportation funds. This game alone is expected to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars according to Al Aska Shriners Football Chairman Jack Clouse. But even with another year of success behind them — 47, to be exact —the focus remains on the players,

“We want to take care of our kids, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about being an organization that really cares about the community, really cares about the kids,” Clouse said. “From zero to age eighteen, were there for them. All they got to do is ask”.