The two Aloha stars suffered injuries in their senior years, but end careers at Schwab Bowl

HILLSBORO - There were days - and probably too many of them - when Aloha's Sheldon Prince and Ryan Russo couldn't have even imagined what they got to do on Saturday night.

Prince and Russo, both graduated seniors who played key roles for the Aloha football team over the past two seasons, finished their high school athletic careers in style Saturday night as members of the North team in the annual Les Schwab Bowl.

But looking back to the 2011 fall season, when Russo and Prince were team leaders for the defending state champion Aloha football team, there were days when visions of all-star games were far, far away and seemingly out of reach.

That's because both Prince (a 5-foot-10, 180-pound wide receiver and defensive back) and Russo (a 5-10, 186-pound wide receiver and defensive back) both suffered significant injuries that severely curtailed their senior football seasons, hampered their team's playoff hopes, and greatly dimmed their chances of finishing their senior seasons in the Les Schwab Bowl.

But there, at Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday, is exactly where both ended up nonetheless. That fact was not lost on either following the North's 21-0 loss to the South in the all-star battle.

"I was just glad we made it. It was a great opportunity," said Prince, who led his team with four catches for 38 yards. "Like I said, I'm just glad we made it."

"It was great," added Russo, who was credited with 1.5 tackles and one of the North's two interceptions. "I loved putting on a North jersey and getting to play with Sheldon again."

In a year when so many things went sideways for Russo and Prince, as well as for their Aloha team, during the fall season, Saturday's opportunity was just what the doctor ordered.

The doctor, unfortunately, played a bigger role for the Warrior duo than either could have expected.

For Prince, his senior-season injury was a grade 3 case of turf toe suffered in the third week of the non-league schedule against Grant. That injury cost him all five Metro League regular-season games and saw him return for the Warriors' Class 6A Play-In game at only 70 percent of his ability.

Likewise, Russo also found himself on the shelf for a portion of his final grid campaign. He suffered a concussion during the latter half of Metro League play that kept him out of two games and also limited his touches as a ballcarrier after he returned.

Those shortcomings made Saturday's contest even more rewarding for Prince and Russo. Prince will continue his athletic career next year as a member of the Portland State University men's track team, while Russo will play football next year for College of the Siskiyous and may also run track.

"It's cool," Prince said. "I got to be here and a lot of people wanted to be here."

"I didn't get to play as much as I wanted to" this year, Russo said. "It took a while to come back, so I just wanted to come out here and give it my best."

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