SportStars Magazine

Southern Storm: 45th Lions All-Star Football Classic Wrap

Lions All-Star Football Classic

Dominant Defensive Effort, Impressive Chemistry Lead The South To Convincing Victory In 45th Lions All-Star Football Classic

With time running out in the 45th Lions All-Star Football Classic, Patterson quarterback Gabe Sanchez showed he knew the importance of closure.

Lions All-Star Football Classic, Gabe Sancez

Patterson QB Gabe Sanchez looks for an open man during the Lions All-Star Football Classic on June 16.

Just in case any North players were clinging to impractical hope with 30 seconds remaining in the All-Star game on June 16.

Sanchez exhibited the might of the South one last time.

Western Athletic Conference MVP

The Western Athletic Conference MVP bowled over five defenders to score a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining, punctuating a 24-2 South victory at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.

The South gained fewer yards from scrimmage in the all-seniors contest.

But, forced four turnovers and held the North scoreless on four possessions inside the South 12-yard line. Incredibly, the North was also 0-for-9 on fourth down.

North players finished only one drive — the one they took home from the game.

Hilmar coach Frank Marques, coach of the South, attributed the South supremacy to the bonds his team formed during a week-long camp at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock.

Where the players lived and practiced together in the week leading up to the Lions All-Star event.

Lions All-Star Football Classic, Gabriel Cordero

Turlock’s Gabriel Cordero was named the Defensive Player of the Game and also rushed for a touchdown.

“It was the best camaraderie I’ve ever had at an all-star camp,” Marques said. “This is what an all-star game is all about.

“They had a great time together, enjoyed a great camp, and it was great to see it finally pay off.”

North players stayed at the University of the Pacific dormitories in Stockton and practiced with Lincoln-Stockton coach Anthony Martinez at Stagg High. Since his second quarterback left the game with an injury after just two snaps, Martinez deployed his former prep star at Lincoln, Quinton Gaines, for nearly an entire game behind center.

The Reunion Never Paid Off

Gaines, who threw for 2,961 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 68 percent passing last fall, completed just 11 of 26 passes for 159 yards.

No touchdowns and three interceptions against the stout South “D.” Gaines, slated to play for American River College in the fall, also left the game twice, clutching his head after big collisions.

Lions All-Star Football Classic, Jordan Porter

Turlock’s Jordan Porter was named the game MVP after a dominant effort on defense.

Lathrop’s Michael Ramos ran nine times for 69 yards, but he coughed up a devastating fumble with 2:49 to play and Turlock’s Jordan Porter, the game MVP, bolted for a 50-yard scoop-and-score for the South.

The North still enjoyed some sharp individual performances.

Offensive Player of the Game

Rueben Lee of Brookside Christian-Stockton, the Lions All-Star Football Classic Offensive Player of the Game, caught five passes for 76 yards and ran for 13 yards. Lee begins training camp with Sacramento City College football Monday.

“I thought we were going to fight and get the ‘dub,’” Lee said. “We didn’t, but at least our team fought.

“How I played gives me confidence that I am able to play at a high level with Division I players, despite playing at (Division VI) Brookside.”

Lions All-Star Football Classic, Rueben Lee

Lions All-Star Classic Offensive Player Of The Game, the North’s Rueben Lee of Brookside Christian.

Tracy’s Oyebolaji Akinyemi (three sacks, safety, 10 tackles), led the North defense.

The stubborn South defense rolled behind the aggression of Turlock’s Gabriel Cordero, the Defensive Player of the Game. Cordero made two huge fourth-down stops behind the line of scrimmage, landed two quarterback sacks, nine tackles and two sacks. He also scored the first offensive touchdown of the game on a 12-yard sweep.

Overall Performance

His overall performance made up for three fumbles (two lost).

“I came out here and performed at the best level possible,” Cordero said. “I just appreciated playing in this game.”

Kendrick Bond (Patterson) nabbed two interceptions for the North.

Lions All-Star Football Classic, Jacob Vainuku

Jacob Vainuku led the South in rushing with 32 yards on 7 carries.

The South was out-gained 291-179 by the North.

But, Sanchez and Anthony Caballero (Los Banos) combined for 137 yards through the air and bruising fullback Jacob Vainuku (5 feet, 11 inches, 220 pounds) led the rushing attack with 32 yards on seven carries.

Marques admitted his play calling went a little conservative after the safety and some poor field positioning.

He told his squad they were now official members of the Yellowjacket family.

“I’m really going to miss this group of kids,” he said. “I fell in love with these guys. It’s going to be really hard to see them go.”

The South is 5-0-1 in the last six Lions All-Star Classics, but the North leads the overall series, 24-19-2.

Lions All-Star Football Classic summary

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