Football: Alfano shines at Illinois High School Shrine Game

Rochelle’s Braden Alfano (left) represented the Hubs at the 48th Annual Illinois High School Shrine Game this past weekend. Alfano will be continuing his academics and playing baseball at North Central College next year. (Courtesy photo)

Rochelle senior totals three tackles for Red Team in 11-7 win

Defensive lineman Braden Alfano earned one more chance to represent the Rochelle Hub football team over the weekend, when Alfano and the best high school players from around the state united at Illinois Wesleyan University for the 48th Annual Illinois High School Shrine Game.

Alfano took the field on defense and special teams, totaling three tackles as he and the Red Team defeated the Blue Team 11-7. An All-Conference First Team selection in the Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Blue Division during his senior season, Alfano relished the opportunity to wear the Rochelle Township High School helmet and represent his school one last time.

“It was an awesome experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alfano said. “What I enjoyed most was how my teammates and I became close so quickly. It felt like we had been teammates for years. It was definitely sad to play my final football game, but I’m very glad that I received the opportunity and I’ll miss the brotherhood that football brought into my life.”

The Shrine Game events kicked off with player check-ins, media availability and team practices on Tuesday. While players were unable to visit the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago, which had been customary before the COVID-19 pandemic, players still partook in special events throughout the week. On Thursday, players participated in the Central Illinois Miracle League Baseball Game and joined members of the Shriners of Illinois for a cookout.

“The Miracle League game was one of the most fun events I’ve ever been a part of,” said Alfano, who will continue his academics and his baseball career at North Central College in the fall. “It was so cool to see the faces of the kids light up when they got a hit or scored a run.”

Over 100 players from across the state competed in the Shrine Game, which took place at Tucci Stadium on Saturday. A four-year member of the Rochelle Hub football program, Alfano spent three seasons on the varsity team. Alfano was also a four-year member of the baseball program, playing two seasons on the varsity team and earning All-Conference honors once.

“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to compete at North Central for four more years,” Alfano said.