HASTINGS, Neb. – The Sertoma 8-man classic all-star game is one more chance for graduated high school seniors to strap on the pads.

"Everyone talks about how fun these weeks are, and I was also just really looking forward to hit again," said Kale Gustafson of Osceola. "You miss that after a little bit, but all these practices, it's getting me anxious to play."

Dozens of the best 8-man football athletes in Nebraska have spent the entire week in Hastings practicing to capture glory one more time, but more importantly, to make lifelong connections according to West Team Head Coach Mike Kozeal.

"I told them early the great thing about this week is that you'll remember the relationships and the kids you played with," said Kozeal. "You might remember the score, but more importantly you'll remember the guys and the friendships you made."

It can be a challenge putting a band of misfits to work together in just six days, but East Team Head Coach Mitchell Shepherd says the players are doing most of the work for him.

"Those band of misfits are pretty smart, they pick things up super fast," said Shepherd. "You tell them one little point, and 'boom' they execute it. They don't need a whole lot of reps."

This all-star game motivates some to play no matter what. Tanner Bolte of Bruning-Davenport-Shickley broke his foot at conference track and field two months ago, and even with his foot not fully healed, he says he won’t be denied to hit the field one last time.

"I wasn't able to play in the Shrine Bowl, but I told myself 'I'm going to play in the 8-man game no matter what," said Bolte. "It's really important to me to play in those games, and it's an honor to be selected."

The East and West teams turn high school rivals into teammates for one game with some players getting to know those players they’ve been used to playing against every fall.

"You compete against these guys out west for your whole career, you don't know them the best, but then you get around them in a setting like this and realize a lot of them aren't quite what you thought they'd be," said Trey Connell of South Loup. "It's been really fun, a lot of great talent on our west side, and a lot of huge characters on our west side as well, but it's been really fun to get to know them."

While many of these players don’t have football in the future of the college level, Breckan Schluter of Exeter-Milligan-Friend is playing for Hastings College this fall and will get to play on the field that’s soon to be his new home.

"It's cool that the game is here, I remember a few years back I came here and watched one of my buddies that made it, and they played at Adams Central," said Schluter. "We had practice out there yesterday, and I was thinking about 'oh I'm going to be out here quite a bit here soon.'"

Kade Sindt of Elm Creek on the West team has a bold prediction for this year’s game.

"I've been looking forward to this for a couple months now, and West is going to come out on top by at least three touchdowns." said Sindt.

The West Team has won six of the past seven contests, and will look for a three-peat on Saturday. The game is at Hastings College at 6 p.m. and you can listen to the action on ESPN Tri-Cities.