By Greg Bates
OSHKOSH – For most guys, playing in the annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Football Game is an opportunity to play one final high school game with and against the best seniors in the state.
For Cody Lindquist, it was a lot more personal.
It was a chance for him to make a difference since the game raised money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
When Lindquist was 3 years old, he had to spend about one month at the Wauwatosa facility.
“I was in the Children’s Hospital with a benign tumor in my collarbone, so it’s cool to be able to give back to somebody that’s helped me out in the past,” said Lindquist, who graduated from Bay Port this year. “As coach said, it was fun to write our own story. To be able to play one last game, it was in our control if we wanted to go on and win or not.”
With the great cause in the back of his mind, Lindquist, along with fellow Bay Port teammates Dylan Grosskreutz and Gabe Walker, helped the North squad win the Large School game over the South at Titan Stadium July 20, 19-11.
The game was also significant for the three former Pirates because they paid tribute to two of their high school coaches who passed in the last 15 months.
Eric “Lefty” LeFevre, who died in April 2018, and James LaBlonde, who died in May 2019, left their marks on the Bay Port players.
“We know that LaBlonde and Lefty are looking over us, so it means everything for us to put on the Bay Port pads one more time and know they’re watching out for us and take this win for them,” Grosskreutz said.
All three players had inscribed “#WFL” – Win for Lefty and Win for LaBlonde – on the tape on their wrists and/or on their cleats.
“It was our motivation to play as hard as we could,” said Grosskreutz, a starting defensive back for the North.
“That was for Lefty and LaBlonde,” Lindquist said.
Bay Port was well represented in the game with three players.
It was one of only three schools – along with Homestead and River Falls – on the North team to have more than two players.
The guys really enjoyed their time.
“It was a fun experience to play with my two teammates again, meet new guys, play hard, learn about Children’s Hospital and take the victory,” said Walker, who played on the defensive line and notched two tackles, including one for a 1-yard loss.
Lindquist was a key contributor offensively for the North squad.
The wide receiver was third on the team with two catches for 22 yards.
His 14-yard reception in the fourth quarter helped set up the final touchdown of the game.
“We had a lot of great guys on the offense – Mason [Van Zeeland from Kaukauna] made a really good catch for a touchdown, and Josh [Giese from Hortonville] made a really good catch on the hitch and busted away with it,” said Lindquist, who was also the team’s punter. “We all did our part and it felt good to contribute.”
Walker doesn’t know if he’ll be playing football anywhere next year – his college choice is still in the air – so getting a chance to compete possibly one last time was big for him.
“I wanted to play hard,” Walker said. “I don’t know if I’ll be playing again, so I went full out the whole game. Maybe somebody sees the game and something happens after this. It was fun to have the pads on one more time.”
Grosskreutz didn’t know if he would be playing in college until the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse showed interest, and he signed on with the school.
He’ll take away a few valuable lessons from playing in the all-star game.
“These guys are like my brothers now, so I hope I can take that to La Crosse with me and learn their new concepts and be part of another brotherhood like this,” Grosskreutz said.
Lindquist will be heading to Iowa Western shortly to resume his football career.
He’s excited to carry over some of the techniques he learned throughout the week from the North squad coaches.
“It’s cool learning new concepts and different things you can do on routes to get more open,” Lindquist said. “Bay Port taught me really well from when I got there, but it’s always nice to learn from different guys and be able to learn new things.”