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Defense rests for South in 14-10 victory over North Phillip Brents | Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:51 AM

Perhaps not unpredictably, last Friday’s 22nd annual Alex Spanos All-Star Football Classic at Mesa College was a showcase for the defense given that the limited number of practices for the contest pitting graduated seniors does not permit the installation of fancy offensive schemes.

Instead, players did what they did best: hit hard and play hard.

In particular, defense figured prominently in the South team’s come-from-behind 14-10 victory over the North team in front of 3,128 fans.

“That’s always the case when you have Bing Dawson as the defensive coordinator,” said Olympian’s Gil Warren, who served as the South’s head coach. “He put together a great defensive scheme. It’s hard to do that in such a short time. He did a great job. The kids stepped up.”

The victory was the South’s fifth win in the last seven meetings between the two squads. The win was especially sweet for the South team’s large contingent of 19 Metro Conference players who made a significant impact in helping lead their team to victory.

Eastlake quarterback Josh Palet threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Kearny’s Shawn Boose while Hilltop’s Omar Hernandez tacked on the point-after-touchdown conversion kicks to boost the offense.

Palet, who is bound for UC Riverside on a baseball scholarship, started the game for the South and played the entire first half . He came back in the second half to lead the South to its game-winning touchdown with 6:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Lincoln’s Isaac Smith scored on a three-yard run on fourth down to overturn a 10-7 deficit.

The South had scored first to lead 7-0.

“The kids played well,” Warren said. “Josh Palet played well and we had those linebackers who did a great job as well —Asante Gibson and Santana Leomiti and Arturo Cuevas — and Devon Flores was on the edge putting a lot of pressure on their quarterbacks for the other guys to pick up sacks. It was a real team effort on everybody’s part.”

Fittingly, the South’s game-winning TD was set up by a North penalty for pass interference.

The flag was the first in the game against the North team, which had repeatedly dodged drawing a penalty while the South team had picked up five yellow flags.

“When we scored to go up 14-10, we held them again and forced them to punt,” Warren said. “We wanted to run out the clock but we had the misfortune to fumble the ball and give them another chance. But our defense held them again. We held them several times throughout the game.”

Miscues helped hinder the South early on. A muffed punt helped set up the North’s lone touchdown — a 20-yard pass from Westview’s Eric Beagle to Escondido’s Sam Browning — with 1:12 left in the second quarter to place the teams in a 7-all halftime tie.

Torrey Pines’ Jack Mitchell later booted a 25-yard field goal with 7:20 left in the third quarter to give the North a three-point lead.

Kearny defensive lineman Ben Moa earned the Player of the Game award for the South team after making four tackles and two sacks.

Bonita Vista’s Sean Fuimaono also racked up some decent defensive statistics in the game: two tackles for losses and two sacks.

(Fuimaono’s older brothers Howie and Starr both attended UNLV.)

Also making key contributions for the South team were Eastlake offensive lineman Gabe Casillas, Sweetwater defensive back Daniel Castro, Mater Dei Catholic linebacker Andrew Martinez, Chula Vista running back/kick returner Isaac Martinez, Otay Ranch running back David Mondy, Chula Vista lineman Mike Molina, Olympian offensive lineman Ramiro Ramirez, Eastlake offensive lineman Arturo Hurtado, Mar Vista offensive lineman Victor Vellaverde, Mater Dei Catholic offensive lineman Nico Siragusa, Mar Vista offensive lineman Sean Sullivan and Castle Park offensive lineman Paul Sierra.

The game was the last opportunity for many of the all-stars chosen to play to showcase their gridiron talent in front of family and friends before reporting to college football training camps.

Besides its connections to the Chargers, the Alex Spanos Football Classic also draws support from the San Diego High School Sports Association.

“This game, and the dinner we had on Thursday, were a great experience for the players,” said Hilltop athletic director Nancy Acerrio, a SDHSSA member. “They did an excellent job and were excited to play in front of their families and friends. A lot of South Bay kids had a chance to do something (to contribute to the win).”

Westview linebacker Jason Snyder earned selection as the MVP for the North team.

District physicals

The Southwest Sports Wellness Foundation will conduct annual pre-participation sports screening assessments for all Sweetwater district athletes for the upcoming 2012-13 season July 28 at Eastlake High School. Physicals will be conducted from 8 to 11 a.m. Cost is $20. Call 421-9521 for information.

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