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'You can play as the underdog and win': Manhattan standout brings competitive edge to East-West Shrine Game

Case Kruse Shrine Game practice
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-13 19:16:16-04

BUTTE — Manhattan football standout Case Kruse will be taking the field for the West team in Saturday's Montana East-West Shrine Game.

Although the defensive lineman comes from a smaller Class B school, he's ready to play with the highest level of competition this state has to offer.

“Just being able to have that opportunity as a Class B school, it’s pretty rare, so, I’m really pumped to be out here playing, and have that opportunity to come out here and play with the big boys," Kruse said.

Though Kruse is a Class B player who will take the field on Saturday, don’t let that title fool you.

He’s a proven state champion and what sets him apart is that his competition outweighs any player he’s matched up against.

“I mean, you can play as the underdog and win," he said. "You just got to have that mentality that each and every play you’re going to find a way to beat the guy across from you.”

You can’t coach tenacity and grit, it's something that he was born with and has had since he started playing the game.

His competitive edge will outweigh any of his competitors in front of him.

“I mean, I’m not the supreme body type to be in the trenches, and so I just, I have to play hard, physical and violent, fast," he explained. "So just having to do that play after play after play, it’s just been put in me to just, no matter what, I’m going to beat you the best that I can.”

A part of his game that separates him from most others who play his position is his speed and shiftiness.

It's a major advantage that he’ll have to use on Saturday.

“It comes down mainly to my game of speed, and just, I’m going to get around you," he said when describing how he outplays his opponents.

"I’m not going to meet you head on because I’ll probably lose, and in those situations where I have to, I just fight my best, get positionally where I need to be," he continued. "And [I] try and find a chink in your armory where I can just exploit it and keep pounding to get it done.”

Next year, Kruse plans to walk on at Montana State. He’s going to miss the small-town feel of Manhattan and the "Friday Night Lights," but he’s more than prepared for the even brighter lights of Bobcat Stadium.

“I love playing football, I’ve played it since I could walk," he smiled. "I’ve always wanted to do it, I plan on doing it at MSU next year. And yeah, just play the game, that’s what I’m looking forward to most.”

You can watch Kruse and the rest of the West team take on the East in the Shrine Game on Saturday on the Montana Television Network.