Cameron Ditter has heard about this week most of his life, so when his time came to experience it he knew just what to do.
Make his numbers a target, watch the ball into both hands, secure it and make a play.
Again and again.
The versatile, sure-handed Selah graduate was named offensive MVP on a day when his team could do no wrong as the East, with major contributions from Selah and Zillah, rolled to a 37-6 victory in the 25th annual Earl Barden All-Star Classic at Zaepfel Stadium.
With his older brother Kyle having played in the 2015 edition, and with his father Scott not only a 1986 All-Star alumnus but on the sideline coaching the East on Saturday, Ditter put on a show with nine catches for 89 yards and a tackle-breaking touchdown, a pair of two-point conversion runs and a conversion pass.
After the game, with family and friends mixing with their players all across the field, the humble Whitworth-bound Ditter was all about these moments rather than the statistics.
"As soon as I found out I'd get a chance to experience this, I just lit up," he said. "My dad's played in it, my brother's played in it, I've watched it, and now I got the chance to do it and it was amazing. This week has honestly changed me and it happened in just five, six days."
After just a couple practices, Ditter and the other East receivers knew they were in for a treat with a pair of 6-foot-5 quarterbacks — Royal's Sawyer Jenks and Omak's Kanen Ables — who could seriously pitch it around the yard. They proved in and then some Saturday, combining to complete 25 of 40 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
Six of Ditter's nine receptions were thrown by Jenks, including a mid-range over-the-middle snag that he turned into a 31-yard touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter for a 30-6 lead.
"Sawyer, wow, what a great arm. I love that guy," Ditter said. "The cool thing about Kanen is we were roommates here all week and we're both going to Whitworth. Great guys. But, really, I had a rough first half because I dropped some passes I should've have. I told both at halftime, no more drops. It's faster-paced here than a CWAC game because all these guys are so good."
Ables connected with W.F. West's Troy Yarter on a 72-yard touchdown to open the scoring and later added a 22-yard touchdown strike to Angel Farias, Jenks' Royal teammate. What the East did in the air was more than enough to win the game, but that wasn't the half of it.
Forcing four turnovers and conceding just 142 total yards, 52 of which came on two scrambles, the East defense was a monster all day. Zillah's Dakota Hibbs and Bailey Sparks often played side-by-side on the left, and Selah's Jake Weber came up with the first of three interceptions.
"Our defense was amazing. So big and fast," said Hibbs, who had two tackles for a loss. "Throughout the week we really came together quick and it was amazing how fast it happened. It was so much fun to come out and meet all these great people and compete with the westside."
Hibbs embraced the tradition of pasting his helmet with decals from other schools so much that he didn't mind having Newport squarely on top.
"And they beat us in the playoffs two years in a row," Hibbs smiled, adding how much he enjoyed meeting Danny Bradbury and Tug Smith for the Grizzlies.
Selah's Skylar Rayburn put in some heavy work on the East's offensive line, which piled up 426 yards and ran 73 plays. Weber, who recently recovered from a track injury, played a lot of cornerback and helped hold the West to 91 passing yards.
After Weber's interception set up his team's first score, the East's second pick was a real crowd-pleaser. With the West backed up and throwing from its own end zone, Colville's 245-pound defensive lineman Jacob Newsom anticipated a short lob pass, intercepted it and barreled 10 yards for a pick-6 that gave the East a 16-6 lead at the break.
Cheney's Jacob McGourin, a 6-5, 235-pound working the edges most of the afternoon, was named the East's defensive MVP. He's headed to Montana.
For the West, the MVP awards went to Sequim's Riley Cowan (offense), who will join Rayburn at George Fox in the fall, and Adna's Jason Chilcoate (defense).
Inspirational awards went to Marshall Meleney of West Valley-Spokane (East) and Herb Polu of River Ridge (West).
Coolest thing to see was Robert Comstock and his entourage from Quilcene, which brought a school bus to Yakima with classmates, friends and family to cheer on the rare All-Star from an 8-man school.
"What's great is that these guys aren't here just for their talent, they're all great guys who work hard," Ditter said. "Also, I got another week with Jake and Skylar, who are exactly that. They put their hearts into everything. I wouldn't be here today if not for my teammates at Selah and especially these two guys. This is what we'll always remember."
West 0 6 0 0 — 6
East 8 8 8 13 — 37
East — Troy Yarter 72 pass from Kanen Ables (Cameron Ditter run)
East — Jacob Newsom 10 interception return (Ditter run)
West — Tyler Nevin 4 pass from Riley Cowan (run failed)
East — Angel Farias 22 pass from Ables (Tyler Flanagan pass from Ditter)
East — Ditter 31 pass from Sawyer Jenks (pass failed)
East — Flanagan 3 run (Alonso Hernandez kick)
RUSHING — West: Riley Cowan (Sequim) 5-35, Dawson Stanley (Napavine) 5-25, Logan Storm (Chimacum) 2-9, Jared McCollum (Napavine) 2-8, Tyler Gray (Cedarcrest) 2-minus 2, J.J. Lemming (Steilacoom) 1-minus 6, Drew Rose (South Bend) 3-minus 8, Taitum Brumfield (Elma) 4-minus 10. East: Tyler Flanagan (Woodland) 12-71, Danny Bradford (Newport) 5-42, Jake Weber (Selah) 3-10, Marshall Meleney (West Valley) 1-2, Jacob Newsom (Colville) 1-minus 1, Alonso Hernandez (Royal) 1-minus 3, Kanen Ables (Omak) 5-minus 10, Sawyer Jenks (Royal) 4-minus 11.
PASSING — West: J.J. Lemming (Steilacoom) 14-25-2-76, Dawson Stanley (Napavine) 1-2-0-6, Drew Rose (South Bend) 1-7-1-5, Riley Cowan (Sequim) 4-8-0-4. East: Sawyer Jenks (Royal) 15-25-0-168, Kanen Ables (Omak) 10-15-1-158, Tyler Flanagan (Woodland) 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — West: Axel Wilhonen (Burlington-Edison) 9-39, Isaac Hoidal (Stevenson) 3-21, Tyler Nevin (Concrete) 3-14, Logan Storm (Chimacum) 2-9, Taitum Brumfield (Elma) 2-minus 1, Robert Comstock (Quilcene) 1-9. East: Cameron Ditter (Selah) 9-89, Angel Farias (Royal) 5-66, Troy Yarter (W.F. West) 3-94, Mason Knode (Liberty Christian) 3-16, Dawson Fritz (Mark Morris) 2-16, Jordan Thrasher (Tonasket) 1-21, Tug Smith (Newport) 1-14, Tyler Flanagan (Woodland) 1-10.