Sweet Home quarterback gets taste of big time in all-star game

Scott Swanson

Aiden Tyler, who has started at quarterback for Sweet Home’s football team for the past two years, got a chance to play at the next level when he was selected to participate in the National Offense Defense All-American Bowl Game June 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“That was pretty special,” Tyler said after his return from Texas, where he spent four days training with other all-star players from around the nation and then playing in the game, which his team won 18-12.

Tyler started at quarterback and drove his team 70 yards down the field on their opening possession, connecting on a 27-yard touch pass for their first score.

Sweet Home Head Coach Dustin Nichol said he doesn’t recall any other local player getting the opportunity to play in that kind of game, though a number of talented Huskies have played in the in-state all-star Shrine Game.

“When he talked to me, I thought a good reason to do it would be the chance to work out,” Nichol said. “It was a great opportunity.”

Tyler, who will be a senior in the fall, was on ice for most of the spring, along with other local athletes, after high school sports were abruptly canceled by the OSAA. He said he’s been lifting weights and doing one-on-one workouts with fellow senior-to-be Cole Baxter.

“Cole and I have been practicing every day,” Tyler said. “We’ve been going down to the field a lot.”

The four teams in the all-star games were coached by former NFL players and college coaches, including Lawrence W. Kennan, a former NFL player and coach, and most recently head coach at Incarnate Word; Phillip “Greg” Quick, director of global scouting for the Canadian Football League; Marty Fine, former New Mexico Highlands, Sonoma State and Bryant University head coach; and former NFL and Cornell coach and current XFL coach Peter K. Mangurian.

The games include camps, and players were “top recruits,” Tyler’s dad, Nick Tyler said.

The participants had to follow “a bunch of restrictions and rules about COVID and stuff,” but most of the players had five or six family members and friends in attendance, so there were spectators at the game, Aiden Tyler said. Each team had 15 or 16 players, he said.

“The other quarterback that was on (Aiden’s) team held four D-1 offers, including Navy, Army and Mississippi State,” Nick Tyler said.

“I learned a lot from him,” Aiden Tyler said. “It was nuts, getting experience from other people.”

His son actually played in an earlier seeding game that his team lost to the championship team, Nick Tyler said.

“Aiden played great in both games,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Nichol said he told his quarterback “to go down there and glean everything you can, then bring that info back and tell our coaches and players about it.

“It was an opportunity for him to play at another level. It was a good litmus test to see where he stacked up.”

Aiden Tyler said they held a couple of scrimmages before the games.

“Me and my receivers had our timing down,” he said. “We were more prepared.”

On their scoring drive, “we just marched down the field,” Aiden said. “We had a couple of breakaway runs and then I threw a 30-yard touchdown pass.

“It was crazy, playing with people from different environments, with all these (athletic) freaks. They were all so good.

“It was nice going out. It is my senior year and the first time I’ve been on the field in a football game since last year. I’m that far ahead of other people. I think I have an advantage now.”

Nichol said he hopes Tyler gets an opportunity to find out this fall.

“I just hope he’ll get a chance to use that experience at our place.”