When he was 7 years old, Nevada senior Andrew Saunders needed the services of the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.
Now Saunders will be playing to benefit those hospitals when he suits up for the 47th-annual Iowa Shrine Bowl on Saturday in Cedar Falls.
“I fell into a fire and got third-degree burns on my back when I was 7,” Saunders said. “I benefited from the Shriners — they helped me. To be able to compete and help them is a cool thing I get to do.”
Saunders is the son of Jeffrey and Mae Saunders of Nevada. He earned his spot at the Shrine Bowl with a record-breaking season at receiver for the Nevada football team last fall.
Having not caught a pass in varsity play prior to his senior season, Saunders moved to receiver last season and rewrote the Nevada record books. He set Cub single-season records for receptions (80), receiving yards (982) and receiving touchdowns (nine) — setting the school single-game marks for receptions (21) and yards (226) in his final game.
“I’m really looking forward to playing one last game sporting the Nevada Cubs,” Saunders said.
Saunders will be a receiver on the North Squad. That team will be coached by Hall of Fame coach Jeff Roozeboom of West Lyon, and Nevada head coach Andrew Kleeman will be an assistant on the team.
“It’s really cool to have him back as my coach one last time,” Saunders said. “I’m lucky to be able to have him as my coach again.”
Saunders said he had enjoyed getting to interact with the best players from the state of Iowa and is looking forward to all the festivities surrounding the game.
“It’s been a really cool experience to be a part of and it’s been a lot of fun,” Saunders said. “Getting to meet players from across the state has been awesome.”
Saunders will continue his playing career in college at Iowa Central Community College.
The 2019 Iowa Shrine Bowl will take place at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. It is set to start at 7 p.m. To date, the Iowa Shrine Bowl has raised $2,600,000 for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.