By SIM RISSO
For The Union Democrat
The Small-School All-Star game will be held this upcoming Friday, July 1, at Calaveras High School’s Frank Meyer Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
The game pits the North against the South, with Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby leading the North squad and Orestimba’s Aaron Souza coaching the South squad.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me and my staff,” said Weatherby. “We’ve been excited about it for a little over a year. We talked about potentially hosting it last year, but it fell through because they already had it planned at Riverbank. But they guaranteed me that next year we could have it up here.”
Being an all-star game, Weatherby is aiming to divide playing time so that every player will get a chance to play.
“We’ll divvy up playing time,” said Weatherby. “We’ll try to get everybody in as much as we can. We’ll try to showcase as many kids as we can. It depends a lot on where the need is, and where the kids really want to play. But we’re trying to divvy up playing time as best we can.”
Local teams and players will be well represented in Friday’s contest, as players from Amador, Argonaut, Calaveras, Linden and Summerville will playing on Weatherby’s North team.
Representing Summerville is Taylor Gold. Weatherby knows Gold well after coaching against him the past couple years at Summerville but, beyond that, Gold has been playing Pop Warner against Weatherby’s son (Austin) for years.
“He’s a really talented guy that I’ve watched since he was probably 10- years old,” said Weatherby. “He played against my son the whole time. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best backs in the area. He’s super tough, super aggressive — loves to hit — I really love that about him. It doesn’t end there. He’s a good person. He does what he has to do and then helps the guy up afterwards. That’s my style of play. Knock somebody down, help them back up.”
Also representing the North squad are numerous players from Weatherby’s Calaveras Redskins, which finished runner-up to Escalon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championships. Among them are Sam Wylam and Brandon Brooks, who are, “unsung heroes,” from last year’s historic squad.
“Both of them were kind of unsung heroes last year,” said Weatherby. “They were linemen that were solid, and played very well throughout our playoff run. I don’t think they got all the credit that was totally due to them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to do it again. They’re both pretty talented players that when it comes down to crunch time, those are guys I’d want on my side. Brandon will probably play offensive line and defensive line. Sam will probably be our quick side tackle.”
Eli Thom is representing the North team as well. After playing center and linebacker for Calaveras last season, Thom will be playing some fullback/H-back in Friday’s game, in order to get acclimated to the position that he’ll be playing next season at Butte College.
“He’s gonna be playing at Butte College as a fullback/H-back, so we’re gonna try and run him in that aspect a little bit,” said Weatherby. “We’re gonna put him at tight end, a little bit at fullback.”
Kyle Towler will also be in the game, and should be showing off his versatility, playing both sides of the ball and all over the field.
“Kyle Towler is going to be playing some linebacker and tight end,” said Weatherby. “We might use him a little bit at fullback too, a little bit of that H-Back type. We’ll see how that goes.”
Conor Seawell and Ben Kerstan have also made the team. Kerstan figures to see a lot of time playing on the defensive line, while Seawell will get time at wide receiver, where alongside Escalon’s Brandon Shaw, he might provide for some mismatches.
“My idea is I want to put Conor and Shaw on the same side and run some routes with them,” said Weatherby. “They both are talented people that can get open in a fix, so I’m kind of hoping to see that a little bit, too.”
Monti Wilson and Chris Ussery, who played in the Lions all-star game, were late additions to the team, but will play nonetheless.
“We had the discussion, ‘Should kids play in the small school game who got selected for the large school Lions game?’ ” said Weatherby. “The general feeling from all the coaches I talked to was, ‘Yes, they should automatically be in there because if they were good enough to get picked for that one, they’re good enough to play in both of them.’ “
The game is sure to be a spirited affair on both sides. For some kids, this will be their last opportunity to play football. For others, the game provides another opportunity to show off their abilities and attract the attention of scouts.
“I think it’s viewed as an opportunity for them to put the pads on one last time or an opportunity to maybe try and see some scouts take a look,” said Weatherby. “Some of them may never play again, so this is their last opportunity.”
Either way, it’s sure to be an absolute blast for all involved: Fans, players and coaches.
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