White River senior Payne Plaster spent part of his holiday break in Texas, taking the field against some of the nation’s elite football players.
Plaster, who has climbed in his school’s record book for both his offensive and defensive accomplishments, was asked to participate in the annual Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. The game, with an east-west format, was staged Monday, Dec. 20, at AT&T Stadium (home field of the Dallas Cowboys). It is commonly referred to as “the house the Jerry built” or “Jerry’s World,” a reference to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Plaster (5 feet, 10 inches and 175 pounds) was one of six running backs on the west squad. He was one of just two players from Washington participating in the game, joining Steilacoom quarterback Caleb Crider.
The gridiron showcase saw the West squad jump to a 21-0 lead and eventually take a 35-27 victory.
For his part, Plaster was pleased with his performance. Entering the contest late in the opening quarter, he had a six-yard gain on his first carry and posted positive yardage on each subsequent effort.
“It was awesome,” the 18-year-old Plaster said during a phone conversation from the Dallas airport. “It was really fun.”
He admitted all the players – and there were well over 130 in total – were a bit awestruck when they strolled on the stadium turf for the first time. Coming from the friendly confines of Arrow Lumber Stadium on the rural Buckley campus, Plaster was staring up at a facility that holds approximately 80,000 fans.
Even the coaching staff was impressive. Plaster’s offensive coordinator was Seneca Wallace, who spent a decade in the NFL. He suited up for seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks but also started games for Cleveland and Green Bay.
Plaster had caught the eye of Blue-Grey organizers while attending one of the operation’s combines. In Arizona he posted the top time in one of the drills, something that contributed to his invitation to play in Dallas.
The biggest question mark for Plaster centers upon his football future.
“I’m keeping everything open right now,” he said. He has received tentative offers from some smaller four-year programs, has talked to others and could be making some recruiting trips. In the end, there’s always the potential to be a “walk on” player with an established program.
During his four years in a White River uniform, Plaster steadily climbed his way through the Hornet record book. He ended his prep career with 20 rushing touchdowns, placing him sixth on the all-time list, and totaled 1,774 rushing yards, good for No. 4 in the Hornet record book. Defensively, his 179 tackles left him at No. 6.
Blue-Grey Football was established in 1989 by the father-son team of Gus and Erik Bell. They launched the program to help prep prospects from all over the country receive national exposure and increase their chances of securing a college scholarship.