The kids are alright: 6 football players from foothills competing in Florida Youth Shrine Bowls this weekend

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Riley Mispley, an eighth-grader at Magnolia Intermediate, already has a couple of ideas for Placer High School football coach Joey Montoya. 
“I like the Wing-T, how fast it is,” said Mispley, a running back who was recently named the Sacramento Youth Shrine Bowl MVP and plans on playing football for the Hillmen. “I wish we threw a little pistol or Wildcat into the playbook but I don’t know if Montoya is into that.”
That might not fly with coach Montoya, who likes to run a Wing-T formation nearly 100 percent of the time. But there’s been a lot of talk the past year about how Mispley will be a great fit for the offensive scheme in the years to come.
Mispley, a 5-foot-9, 135-pound workhorse running back for the Placer Hillmen Junior Midget football team this past season, had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a rushing touchdown at the Sacramento Youth Shrine Bowl. Mispley’s North team of area all-stars beat the South 18-0.
 “I was surprised with how good I did,” Mispley said. “I didn’t think I was going to get MVP. I was pretty excited. It was a big turning point for me and made me realize what I could do.”
By virtue of the victory, Mispley and five other foothill football players will be representing California this weekend in back-to-back gridiron contests against a team of Florida stars in Youth Shrine Bowls in Orlando and Oviedo, Fla.  
Joining Mispley are fellow Placer teammate Alex Houston and Colfax’s Mason Hurst, Zane McDade, Dallan Trentman and Jack Beeman.
Before the Sacramento game, Mispley’s brother, Hayden, was honored on the field. Hayden, 11, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and has been a Shriners’ patient since he was 6. 
Mispley thought it was a nice gesture for his brother to be recognized at the charity game.
“It made me feel good playing that it was his game,” Mispley said. “All of the money raised went to help a good cause. He enjoyed being out there.”
The 2012 California Shrine Bowl team, filled with players sure to be making noise throughout the Sac-Joaquin Section in the near future, began practicing last Sunday. The squad practiced at Rio Linda High through Thursday. Many of the players, however, hopped on a plane to the Sunshine State on Wednesday.
Mispley enjoys the fact that he has a familiar teammate in Houston going on the trip.
“It’s good to have somebody else you know so you’re not alone by yourself,” he said. “It’s good to have somebody to talk to on the sidelines.”
The boys will play Saturday at the Masters Academy in Oviedo, Fla., and then again on Sunday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. 
Mispley and Houston are both looking forward to the games. 
“I want to win them both,” Mispley said. “I want to get recognized and let everyone see who I am and play my game. I also want to score more. I only got one (touchdown last game).”
Said Houston: “I’m very excited to represent Placer.”
Mispley and Houston could be representing Placer together for the next couple of years.
Houston, a right tackle on offense, considers Mispley to be a bruising back.
“He’s a great running back,” said Houston, who attends E.V. Cain Middle School. “He’s good at safety, too. When we’re playing, he could pretty much truck any kid out there.” 
Mispley, who said Houston is one of the best tackles he’s been around, agrees that he’s pretty aggressive when he has the ball in his hands.
“I don’t like to run around kids,” he said. “I like to smack them.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel