Ruen, Franta to play in all-star tilt

FAIRMONT – For most high school football players, the last game they will get to play is uncertain. Unless you get to play in your class’ state championship game, the end of the season comes as a surprise for every team.

While their senior football seasons came to an end last fall, Blue Earth Area’s David Franta and Fairmont’s Jay Ruen will have a chance to put on the football pads one more time for their respective schools as they compete in the Minnesota Football Coaches Association Tackle Cancer All-Star Football Game at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at St. John’s University in Collegeville.

“No one ever knows when their last game of football will be,” said Ruen. “Everyone hopes that in the playoffs this game won’t be your last, until it is. I thought I was done playing football, so it’ll be really nice to throw the pads on again and get to play one last time.”

Ruen, a three-year varsity starter for the Cardinals, will return to the gridiron on defense, demonstrating his three-time all-South Central Conference skills as a defensive back.

“I am glad that I’m coming back on defense, it’s more instincts and reacting. I’d definitely be more nervous if I had to play offense,” said Ruen, who also started at tight end for Fairmont. “Offense would be a little more complicated, but then I’d have to get hit by some of those bigger guys, too, so I’m glad that I’ll be the one doing the hitting.”

The Class AAA academic all-state selection used his efforts to help the Cardinals reach the state quarterfinals against Rochestor Lourdes, recording 35 of his 244 career tackles and two of his nine interceptions during his senior season.

The two-time Sentinel All-Area selection also added to the Cardinals’ offensive attack by catching 21 passes for 258 yards and six touchdowns.

And Ruen won’t be the only Cardinal playing, with Luke Becker added some red-and-white flare to the South all-star team’s offense at wide receiver.

“I think that having Luke play, too, will be great. Having someone up there that I know will make me more comfortable, but he’s also one of my good friends, too, so that’s great,” said Ruen. “But not having to play against Franta will be kind of nice. It’ll be fun to get a chance to be on the same team.”

Instead of Ruen trying to either outrun or avoid the Bucs’ Franta during the all-star game, the high school rivals will now get a chance to be teammates.

Franta, like Ruen, will get to focus on the defensive side of the ball for the South squad during the game.

“I’ll be playing defensive back, which I am excited about. That’s what I want to try and play at St. John’s next year,” said Franta. “And I’m not really in football shape, so getting hit wouldn’t be fun. So I’m excited to play defense.”

The three-year starter for the Blue Earth Area Bucs will get to play under the watchful eye of Eden Prairie’s Mike Grant.

“I think the coaches will probably try to keep everything pretty basic, but it’ll be exciting to see what they come up with,” said Franta.

The two-time Sentinel All-Area selection and the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year recorded 223 tackles and four interceptions during his prep career, including a team-high 88 tackles last fall.

The two-time all-SCC selection also ran for 552 yards on 72 carries last season, scoring eight touchdowns to help the Bucs to a 6-3 record.

The all-state nomination played a major role in the Bucs’ 2012 undefeated run to the Class AAA state championship.

“I just really think that being chosen and playing in a game like this is a real honor,” said Franta. “To be consider as one of the best players in the state is really great. Considering that there are teams like Eden Prairie and the big schools that will also be there.”

“It will be interesting to play against the guys from the larger schools, but I think I am also excited to show that the schools from places they may have never heard of, or ever been to, that we can play good football, too,” said Ruen.