‘No-brainer’ for first-ever repeat head coaches to return to Nebraska Shrine Bowl
The Nebraska Shrine Bowl kicks off at 6:00 p.m. central time on Saturday. Pregame coverage starts at 5:38 p.m. on News Channel Nebraska TV.
KEARNEY, Neb. — In its 65th edition, the Nebraska Shrine Bowl is experiencing a first.
Every year has seen new head coaches for the north and south squads. This year, there’s two repeat coaches. Mark McLaughlin of Platteview and Mike Huffman of Bellevue West had the same reaction when asked to return.
“It’s a no-brainer, you do it," McLaughlin said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“It was an absolute no-brainer," Huffman said. "It was a yes. It wasn’t a, ‘hey let me get back to you in a couple of days.’ I was all in.”
Both coaches love the high-level football, but it’s relationships that bring them back.
“You’re getting everybody’s best player and best person. The people,” Huffman said.
“The fellowship aspect, the brotherhood, the friendships that are made among the players, among the coaches you work with,” McLaughlin said.
Both coaches also buy in to the game’s mission of supporting Shriners Children’s.
Despite similar foundations, McLaughlin of the South and Huffman of the North are here to compete. The week started with an overload of positivity for the North but is evolving into a grind.
“These kids start messing up and the niceties have kind of gone away," Huffman said. "You keep messing up now and you’ll be watching more than you’re going to be playing.”
The South squad is tired of hearing about the talent on the North.
“They have the names, they have the star power and we’re good with that," McLaughlin said. "We’re not going to forfeit. We’re showing up Saturday because we’ve got some dudes that we think can play football just as good as theirs.”
Both coaches lost in their prior stint at the Shrine Bowl. Motivation won’t be an issue on Saturday.
“You know, you’re representing your family, you’re representing your town, your school, you need to go out here and ball out," Huffman said. "Now, hopefully we have more points than they do at the end, but if you don’t, you know you put it all on the line.”