As two-way players, Ben Duerr and Alex Hoff often took the same snaps for a majority of their four seasons together.
Going into their final game as teammates, the 2012 Lebanon High School graduates and all-state players were asked to take on different roles to help lead their team to victory.
Hoff’s primary job in the 2012 Les Schwab Bowl, the annual all-star game showcasing Oregon’s top 5A and 6A talent, was to pave the way for the South team’s running backs.
Duerr, the two-time defending 5A Mid-Willamette Conference Offensive Player of the Year and all-league quarterback, took on the task as South’s last line of defense on the Hillsboro Stadium turf.
While the two Warriors didn’t stand out like usual in the final statistics, their play in the 65th annual contest on June 23 was enough to help provide a 21-0 victory and the summer exhibition’s first shutout since 1988.
Playing out of position didn’t allow the Warriors’ top playmakers to impact a scoreless first half, but steady execution and ball control by the South team after halftime helped to limit the North to just 89 yards of total offense in the game.
As one of Duerr’s favorite targets at tight end and receiver the last two seasons, Hoff was thrown just one pass while making a one-game transition to fullback. The all-state second-team linebacker, however, says it was still a rewarding experience in the end.
“When you play linebacker, it’s good to know the opposite position,” said Hoff, who will join brother Tyler Steele on the Linfield defense in the fall. “It would have been fun to play a little tight end, but it worked out for the best.”
Hoff also never got the chance to rush the passer in his six third-quarter snaps at linebacker, but the Warriors leading pass-rusher was happy to get more than a few hits while setting up in the offensive backfield.
“I was a little disappointed at the beginning. Defense is my home, it’s where I like to be, but they needed a fullback,” Hoff said. “I felt it was an honor to pick me of all the players here. It was worth the sacrifice for the victory.”
Hoff was involved in six tackles, including two on special teams and another two following second-quarter South turnovers.
Hoff took on long-snapping duties as well, while Duerr split time at safety and on special teams.
The exhibition would be the last time Duerr would suit up in pads as the two-sport star will move on to Forest Grove’s Pacific University next year to study business while playing baseball.
A torn ligament in his right hand, suffered during a Mid-Valley Rockets batting practice, took away Duerr’s final opportunity to play quarterback.
“My thumb has been a little sore. It’s on the mend, but I didn’t want to risk hurting it again,” said Duerr. “It just means a lot to be selected to play in this game, and to be able to represent our great community of Lebanon was just an honor.”
Duerr was involved in two tackles during the contest, but he noted that his 39 snaps in the secondary were uneventful due to an imposing South pass-rush that provided nine sacks.
“They did a heck of a job. Our D-linemen are the best in the state, and they made our job easy,” Duerr said. “It was a fun game. We felt we had to pitch a shutout, and we did.”
South kicker Sean Bellotti, of Sheldon, put through two third-quarter field goals before Marist’s Taylor Walcott took two passes for touchdowns to clinch the South win.
The victory was the cherry on top of a memorable season for the two Warriors. After the game, Hoff was able to reflect on what it took to become one of the state’s elite players.
“Giving all the work you put in, all the summer lifting, practices and everything you do for the team, it’s a huge honor to be picked,” said Hoff. “And it’s great to show the rest of the state just what kind of players Lebanon has.”
2012 Les Schwab Bowl
at Hillsboro Stadium
South 21, North 0
South 0 0 6 15 — 21
North 0 0 0 0 — 0
South - Sean Bellotti 28 yard FG (9:47)
South - Bellotti 39 yard FG (0:00)
South - Taylor Walcott 66 yard from Dillon Miller (Cody Hollister pass from Miller) 12:36
South - Walcott 18 pass from Jacob Hollister (Bellotti kick) 5:45