Luensman enjoys Shrine Bowl experience, makes key play

Tyler Luensman (20) celebrates with teammates after his interception for the North team in the second quarter of the Shrine Bowl. (Photo courtesy of Jim Nelson, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Tyler Luensman of Monticello was a member of the North team for the Iowa Shrine Bowl football game July 24 in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The North defeated the South 52-24. (Photo submitted)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     The North team led the South 24-10 as halftime approached in the Iowa Shrine Bowl All-Star Football Game, but the South was driving.

     That was when Monticello’s Tyler Luensman made one of the key plays of the game: intercepting a South pass near the goal line and returning it 30 yards to preserve the two-score lead.

     The North went on to win 52-24 in the game, played July 24 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

     For Luensman, the play was a perfect cap to an exciting week of Shrine Bowl activities.

     “It was super exciting. The energy was really high in the building,” he said. “It was just a completely different feeling from anything else I’ve ever had. It was crazy.”

     Luensman, 18, who graduated from Monticello High School this past May, joined the other Shrine Bowl players in a week of activities. They arrived the previous Sunday, July 18, practiced twice a day but also got to take part in other activities.

     They had a barbecue, went to Lost Island water park one day, got to meet and hang out with the Shrine kids, and had a picture day, and more.

     “It was a pretty busy week,” Luensman said.

     During the game, he estimates that he was on the field for about half of the snaps on defense, playing cornerback. But his interception was the play that stood out.

     “They had a really good wide receiver on the other team that is going to Princeton,” Luensman recalled. “They threw it to him a couple of plays previously and he caught the ball, but it was called back for holding.

     “I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so I was going to be ready for it. He ran an out route to the end zone, and I just kind of got a quick jump on it and trusted the people behind me to be there if I were to mess up.”

     Playing against and with highly-regarded and highly-recruited players was a big part of the excitement for Luensman. In particular, he mentioned Cooper Dejean, who was named Most Valuable Player for the North’s offense. Dejean, from OABGIC of Ida Grove, will be an Iowa Hawkeye in the fall.

     “It was super cool to be able to be out there and compete with those guys that are going on to play at a higher level,” Luensman said. “You get to talk to them and get to bond with them a little bit, and just see where you’re at (playing) against them.”

     The game benefitted the Shriners Hospital for Children, and Luensman said he was treated well by everyone involved in the event.

     “The Shrine people were super nice, and everyone seemed like they were there for the right reasons,” he said. “It was for the kids.”

     It might have been the last football game of Luensman’s career, although he left that door open just a bit.

     “My plans are just to go up to UNI and study finance,” he said. “I was thinking about trying to walk on for the football team, but it was just going to be really hard for me to get on at this point.

     “I was thinking about maybe taking a year off, seeing how much I missed it, and if I missed it enough, maybe I’d have to go back and give it another shot.”



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