Fri, Jul 16 2010 02:57 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
For seven South County gridiron standouts, it was one last chance to shine in "Friday Night Lights" mode last Friday at Mesa College when the 20th annual Alex Spanos Classic showcased top graduated senior players from San Diego County.
The half-dozen South County pigskinners represented the South team in the annual North-South match-up. But the game turned into a one-sided affair, with the North All-Stars claiming a dominating 27-3 victory.
The North now leads the series 9-6 since the format shift to geographic zones in 1995. The South won last year's game 10-6.
The Spanos Classic is the state's longest-running all-star high school football game. Prior to 1995, all-stars from the Class 3A and Class 2A teams participated. The Class 3A All-Stars won three of those four games.
The North benefited from six South turnovers in this year's contest, scored twice on takeaways and held the South to just 40 rushing yards.
But while faces might have become long on the South sideline as the game progressed, there was time to celebrate the future as well.
Among the South County all-star picks were three players from Eastlake's 2009 San Diego Section Division I championship squad: quarterback D'Angelo Barksdale and linebackers Matt Cellery and Marcus Mendillo. The Chula Vista Spartans also were represented by three players: quarterback Victor Perez, linebacker/running back Thomas Tutogi and defensive back Tyrone Richardson. Defensive back Jake Coogan represented Mater Dei Catholic.
Tutogi served as the South's co-captain along with West Hills lineman Jake Peterson.
Perez and Barksdale shared the quarterback duties with Madison standout Lester Fontenette, who is bound for Fresno State.
Among those players who have committed to play at four-year colleges are Barksdale (University of San Diego), Mendillo (Azusa Pacific) Cellery (SDSU) and Coogan (Whittier).
Tutogi, Richardson and Perez all remained undecided on their future college plans.
Barksdale and Perez both earned First Team All-Mesa League offensive honors last year while Mendillo, Cellery, Richardson and Tutogi were all first team all-league defensive picks. Coogan was a second team all-league defensive selection.
Cellery was named the Mesa League Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite the South's lopsided setback, Mendillo, Tutogi and Richardson were in on numerous defensive stops throughout the contest.
The North led 7-0 on a nine-yard pass from La Jolla County Day's Derek Hartfield (John Hopkins University) to Carlsbad's Matt Consalvi (Arizona State).
An interception by Dominick Markham (El Camino) in the second quarter set up a 27-yard scoring pass from Oceanside quarterback Quentis Clark (Southern Oregon University) for Pirate teammate Devin Taverna (Palomar). Markham had returned the pick 50 yards as the South attempted a fake punt.
In the third quarter, a fumbled pitch from Fontenette led to a 22-yard TD return by La Costa Canyon's Adam Witzmann (University of San Diego).
The South had a chance to get back in the game early but could not take advantage of the North's only turnover when Serra's Brandon Johnson (Tabor University) scooped up a fumble and returned the ball 38 yards to the North seven-yard line. But the South's scoring opportunity ended with an interception in the end zone.
A 64-yard punt return for an apparent touchdown by Lincoln's Davon Dunn (Fresno State) was called back due to a penalty.
The North was up 21-3 in the waning minutes of the game after La Jolla's Braden Fudge (TCU) booted a 29-yard field goal. The North closed out scoring on a 41-yard interception return by Markham on the final play of the game.
The Northern State-bound Markham, who made three picks in the game, was named the North All-Star's Most Valuable Player of the Game. Lincoln's Victor Dean (Fresno State) was named the South All-Stars MVP after catching four passes for 98 yards.
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