Double the fun: QND’s Stratton, Central’s Genenbacher take on challenge of playing in two all-star games in same day


Quincy Notre Dame's Jackson Stratton will pull off a rare double-double when he plays in both the Illinois Shrine Game and the Muddy River Showcase on Saturday. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Jackson Stratton and Isaac Genenbacher had the same initial thought when they received invitations to play in the Muddy River Showcase.

How can I make this work?

The Quincy Notre Dame and Camp Point Central multi-sport athletes had committed to play in the Illinois Shrine Bowl, an all-star event for prep football players being held Saturday on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus in Bloomington.

Saturday is also the Showcase, taking place at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

Neither wanted to turn down an opportunity to play in either game, but neither knew if playing in both was a possibility. So conversations were had, schedules were compared, adjustments were made and the opportunity to pull off a rare double-double became reality.

So Saturday, after playing in an 11 a.m. football game, Stratton and Genenbacher will hustle back to Quincy to represent Illinois in the annual cross-river rivalry basketball affair at 6 p.m.

“It’s two sports we both love and love playing,” said Stratton, an honorable mention all-state linebacker in football and the Raiders’ leader in assists in basketball. “We get to play with our buddies from around here, so it’s worth making the trip back.”

They know there is a drawback to the twinbill.

“We’ll be tired,” Genenbacher said.

That didn’t dissuade either of them from committing to both.

“It’s a blessing,” said Genenbacher, an all-state running back who led Central to a Class 1A state runner-up finish last November and an all-state forward who led the Panthers to 27 victories last winter. “It’s special.”

Camp Point Central’s Isaac Genenbacher, right, will represent Illinois in the Muddy River Showcase on Saturday at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

Both played in the Central Illinois Sports All-Star Game in March which gave them the opportunity to join forces with some of the area’s best senior basketball players and develop relationships with guys they battled with during the season.

“It was really fun going to that first open gym and playing pickup games the entire time,” Stratton said. “It was guys from around here who had been playing against each other and butting heads all these years now playing together and relating to each other.”

The Shrine Game is a little different in that respect. It showcases 80 of the top seniors from around the state with four area players — Central offensive lineman Owen Roth and Macomb linebacker Ethan Ladd are joining Stratton and Genenbacher — on the rosters.

Stratton is on the blue roster, while the other three are on the red roster.

For Genenbacher, who is considering going to lineman school, this will be his final football game.

“I love football, and I thought about college football, but it wasn’t in the works,” said Genenbacher, who rushed for 1,037 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 405 yards and five touchdowns on the gridiron and averaged 13.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals on the hardwood. “So I’m looking forward to this.”

The opposite holds true for Stratton. He’s signed to play football at Butler University, so the Showcase will be his final basketball game.

“It’ll be fun, and I get to play with one of my favorite teammates in Jake Hoyt,” said Stratton, who led the Raiders with 81 tackles last fall and then averaged 8.5 points in basketball while leading QND with 81 assists. “Playing basketball one last time competitively will be fun because I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve always enjoyed the game. 

“But I am looking forward to moving on to football and just focusing on football. Sad to be done, but ready to move on.”

Regardless of what their future plans are, they both know there is an expectation for the Illinois squad to put on a show in Showcase.

“That’s pressure,” Stratton said. “But that’s a good pressure.”

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