For the eighth year running, the North squad earned the right to call themselves the best of the best in Northern California, after they pulled away in the second half of the 39th annual 11-man Lions All-Star 4-C1 Football Game on Saturday night.
In what turned out to be a 48-6 blowout win at Shasta College’s Memorial Stadium, The North took the a 10-game lead in the overall series, which now sits at 24-14-1.
Four Colusa County high school seniors took part in the 11-man all-star game, including Garrett Brainard (Pierce), Martin Rangel (Maxwell), Jorge Hernandez (Colusa) and Luis Davalos (Williams).
David Irish (Princeton) was tapped as an all-star for the South’s 8-man team. The South lost that game 56-0.
In the 11-man game, Hernandez and Davalos started on the defensive and offensive lines, respectively, while Brainard and Rangel were contributors on special teams. Brainard also had one carry for a yard on offense.
“We did prep a lot, and had a good feeling going into the game,” said Brainard, who played running back and defensive back for the Bears. “We felt confident that we could come in and have a chance to beat them. We had a couple bad calls that got us down a little bit, and then we had bad play after bad play that set us back.”
Until the third quarter, the game was a tight one – despite the fact that penalties caused the South’s offense to sputter and left them in multiple 3rd and long situations in the early goings.
Both defenses played well in the first half, but the North went into halftime with a 10-0 lead following a 28-yard field goal by Hamilton High’s Riley Meridith and a 20-yard scoring strike from Shasta quarterback Kyle Catanese to Foothill receiver Ryan Terras.
The South opened the second half with the ball, and – following a 47-yard bomb to a streaking Morgan Nichols, — Pleasant Valley’s Brandt Hughes rolled right and connected with the Cliff Jackson of Chico for a 24-yard touchdown, bringing the South within four.
On the North’s ensuing possession, North quarterback Kody Karpinski fumbled the football and the South recovered at the 50-yard line, setting the South up with good field position and a chance to take the lead. On the next play, however, Hughes was intercepted by linebacker Alex Davila, of Corning.
Two plays later, Karpinski hit a wide open Ss’ven Walker of Weed for a 54-yard touchdown, and the North went on to score 38 unanswered points – including two pick-sixes.
“I was a little disappointed, because we had a great team,” said Davalos. “But in the end, the score didn’t matter. Everyone was going hard, and we all did great.”
Despite the final score, Brainard and Hernandez said that they were thankful for the experience.
“Overall it was a great experience. I’m generally a quiet guy when it comes to meeting new people, but it was a blast,” Hernandez said. “I’ve never had so much fun in a week. It felt like I’ve known these guys my whole life from how quick we all bonded.”
The week of preparation and developing camaraderie with standout athletes from different schools was a highlight for Brainard as well.
“The whole week was real fun — connecting with the guys from day one, sharing some laughs, and stuff like that,” Brainard said.
Both Hernandez and Brainard said they relished the opportunity to showcase their ability against the highest level of high school competition in the north state.
“The competition was much more difficult – every single player is great at what they do,” Hernandez said. “Everybody was bigger, faster, and stronger.”
“It was much faster, and a lot more competitive,” Brainard said. “Two guys started over me, and they deserved it, because they were better than me. It was pretty much a college level game, and it was cool to get that kind of experience.”