The 21st Alex Spanos All-Star Football Classic, held July 8 at Mesa College, proved to be a showcase in the truest sense of the word for San Diego’s finest graduating seniors. More specifically, it proved to be a perfect send-off for college-bound players on the victorious South team who got a chance to revel in — and savor — a win over the North team.
“We were underdogs — the North team thought they would chew us up,” said Mar Vista defensive lineman Ruben Gonzales, one of 16 Metro Conference players selected to the South team.
The South team’s dominating 27-7 victory did much to erase the embarrassment of last year’s 27-3 drubbing. While the North team continues to lead the series 10-7-0 in its current format, the South squad definitely made a statement this season and has now won four of the last five engagements in what remains the longest-running high school football all-star game in the state.
“We had the desire to win,” said Otay Ranch defensive lineman Jon Bajet, who is ticketed to play this fall at Humboldt State. “We wanted to make up for the embarrassment we had last year. The North and South have a rivalry. This year we won. I’ll take this with me my whole life..”
The South team, which was comprised of players from the Grossmont, Metro and City conferences and was coached by Mt. Miguel’s Tom Karlo and his staff this season, dominated the match-up from the onset.
Clearly, the South team made a statement. After being held without a touchdown in last year’s game, the South scored on its first four possessions in this year’s game.
South County players made a particularly strong showing in the game.
Olympian quarterback Cobrin Humphrey (Louisiana State University/Menlo College) threw a pair of touchdown passes while Montgomery running back Diego Rodriguez (Grosssmont College) scored on a 45-yard romp to help give the South an early 10-0 edge.
Humphrey, who rushed for 254 yards and passed for 1,083 yards in leading the Eagles to last year’s San Diego Section Division IV semifinal round, was one of three signal-callers employed by the South team. He connected with Madison’s Akeem Woodson (Saddleback College) on a nine-yard slant play in the second quarter to boost the South to a 17-0 lead. Humphrey later passed 10 yards to Monte Vista’s Shervin Iraniha to hike the South advantage to 27-0 in the third quarter.
Rodriguez rushed for a school record 2,360 yards and scored 31 touchdowns last year while leading the Aztecs to the Division III quarterfinals.
It appeared as if the South team might record a rare defensive shutout until Vista running back Joey McFadden (Palomar College) scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The secret to success for this year’s South team came down to heart, players said.
“Every team which I’ve been involved in this year were underdogs but we won,” said MV defensive lineman Anthony Rodriguez of the South Bay League champion Mariners.
“You’ve got to have heart and play hard,” Gonzales said. “It was our last high school game. It was just memories you can never have again.”
Clearly, it was a victory to savor for the entire South coaching staff. Mt. Miguel’s Tom Karlo said he and his assistant coaches took this year’s All-Star game assignment seriously. The result obviously spoke for itself.
“Our staff did a good job of preparing the kids to play well,” Karlo said. “We only had seven practices and I think we had them playing like a seasoned team. It was a fun group. The group responded well and really bonded in a short period of time. This is a group that will stick together and stay in touch for a long time.
“As a staff we wanted to make sure that we took this game seriously, so that the kids would be in the best possible positions to showcase their talents. It was an awesome night. We played with high energy and emotion. The South crowd was electric.”
“It was big,” said Mt. Miguel offensive lineman Reggie Jones, one of 13 East County players selected to the South team. “Every year the winning team gets bragging rights. Earlier in the week when we all sat down at the team dinner, you could feel the tension between the two teams. We had great practices all week.”
“We have a great group of guys this year — I just enjoyed being around every one of them,” said El Capitan defensive lineman Robert Craighead, who had two sacks in the game and is headed to SDSU along with Jones. “It was a great experience.”
Besides the standout showings by the South team’s numerous South County players, a sizable contingent of 13 East County players also produced their share of memorable moments on the field.
Besides Iraniha’s touchdown reception, Grossmont quarterback/running back Desean Waters involved in an 80-yard halfback option pass to Coronado’s Jordan Jacobs (Southwestern College) to set up the South’s final touchdown.
Ex-Granite Hills kicker/receiver Gilbert Perez put on a precision kicking clinic with two field goals and three extra point conversions. Perez booted a 28-yard field goal to put the South up 3-0 in the first quarter and tacked on a 32-yarder to stake the South to a 20-0 halftime advantage.
The Arizona State-bound Iraniha ranks as one of the Monarchs’ leading pass-catchers with 1,224 total receiving yards the past two seasons.
Waters, who is bound for Bimidji State, generated 2,305 yards in total offense for the Foothillers last season.
The first four games in what is now called the Spanos Classic took place between the Class 3A and Class 2A teams. The 3A All-Stars won the first three games in the series.
The South has now won four of the last five games after opening the series with 4-1 deficit. The North won seven of the first 10 games in the present format.
Most valuable players were selected for each team. Scripps Ranch linebacker Chris Campano (USD) earned the honor for the South while Vista linebacker Jeremiah Kose (Palomar College) received the award for the North team. Campano had seven tackles and two sacks while Kose made nine tackles.
Pt. Loma’s Sean McKaveney started the game for the South team at quarterback. He and Morse linebacker Karl Michelson were named South co-captains. Oceanside center David Vasquez and Vista defensive lineman Brandon Taele-Durham were named North co-captains.
Metro Conference 2010 First Team Selections
Jordan Hines (Eastlake) 12; Marcus Hernandez (Otay Ranch) 12; David Mondy (Otay Ranch) 11; Jonathan Henkel (Otay Ranch) 12; Shaun Licudine (Otay Ranch) 12; Ben Galleta (Eastlake) 12; Nikko Sanchez (Eastlake) 12; Chris Fletcher (Eastlake) 12; Jude Isbell (Eastlake) 11; Greg McGhee (Bonita Vista) 12; Isaac Acevedo (Bonita Vista) 12; Marcello Urrutia (Eastlake) 12
Jonathan Bajet (Otay Ranch) 12; Kyle Doton (Otay Ranch) 12; John Dumaran (Otay Ranch) 12; James Duberg (Bonita Vista) 12; Matt Monarrez (Bonita Vista) 12; Andrew Martinez (Mater Dei Catholic) 11; Fernando Cabico (Eastlake) 12; Zac Bannon (Eastlake) 12; Hermes Franco (Eastlake) 11; Clark Moses (Eastlake) 12; Jesse Lapid (Eastlake) 12
Offensive Player of the Year: Chris Fletcher (Eastlake)
Defensive Player of the Year: Fernando Cabico (Eastlake)
Kicker of the Year of the Year: Marcello Urrutia (Eastlake)
SOUTH BAY LEAGUE/OFFENSE
Omar Hernandez (Hilltop) 11; Rommel Cooper (Mar Vista) 12; Justin Peoples (Mar Vista) 12; Trey Ventura (Hilltop) 12; Terrance Newby (Southwest) 12; Anthony Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 12; Eddie Garcia (Mar Vista) 12; Emerson Gomez (Mar Vista) 9.; Chandler Tarrant (San Ysidro) 11; Mark McGuire (Hilltop) 12
SOUTH BAY LEAGUE/DEFENSE
Omar Rios (San Ysidro) 12; Ryan Taylor (Hilltop) 12; Aljeo Cabral (Hilltop) 12; Andres Gutierrez (Southwest) 12; Gaston Garza (Mar Vista) 12; Ruben Montiel (Southwest) 12; Ruben Gonzales (Mar Vista) 12; Demarcus Henderson (Mar Vista) 12; Max Uribe (Mar Vista) 12; Lawrence Walker (Southwest) 12; Keondre Alejandre (Hilltop) 12
Offensive Player of the Year: Rommel Cooper (Mar Vista)
Defensive Player of the Year: Gaston Garza (Mar Vista)
Kicker of the Year: Ricardo Goldsberry (Hilltop)
Kyle Norton (Olympian) 11; David Nieblas (Olympian) 12; Esteban Espinoza (Montgomery) 12; B.J. Dioquino (Montgomery) 12; Arturo Torralba (Castle Park) 12; Dre Gibson (Olympian) 12; Diego Rodriguez (Montgomery) 12; Cobrin Humphrey (Olympian) 12; Adam Aguon (Sweetwater) 12; Justin Gaskin (Olympian) 12; Steven Exum (Olympian) 12
Anthony Marable (Olympian) 12; Michael David (Montgomery) 12; Christian Rivera (Castle Park) 12; Aaron Sillas (Castle Park) 12 Jamar Shelby (Castle Park) 12; Roderick Castillo (Olympian) 12; Devon Flores (Olympian) 11; Steven Shafer (Montgomery) 12; Irving Lopez (Montgomery) 12; Daniel Castro (Sweetwater) 11.; Randy Jones (Olympian) 12
Offensive Co-Players of the Year: Cobrin Humphrey (Olympian), Diego Rodriguez (Montgomery)
Defensive Player of the Year: Roderick Castillo (Olympian)