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Ex-Raiders, 49ers to play in benefit hoop game


A team of former gridiron greats is coming to the foothills to play basketball.

To raise money for Copperopolis Elementary School, about seven former players from the Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers will be in Angels Camp on Saturday to take on a team of foothills residents.

Tipoff is at 1 p.m. at Bret Harte High School.

Confirmed to play as of yesterday were former San Francisco players William "Bubba" Paris and Eason Ramson. Confirmed from the Raiders were Cliff Branch and "Swervin' " Mervyn Fernandez.

Paris, an offensive lineman, played for the 49ers from 1982-90 and helped them win three Super Bowl championships.

Ramson, also a 49er, played tight end and also won a Super Bowl ring with San Francisco.

Branch may be his team's most experienced football player. He spent 13 of his 14 years in the National Football League as a wide receiver for the Raiders in both their first Oakland incarnation and in their Los Angeles years. He also caught a Super Bowl ring along the way.

Fernandez was a wide receiver for the Raiders from 1987-92, when they were in Los Angeles. He played one more year as a 49er before retiring.

The local team, the Copper Cougars, is made up of people who either attended Copperopolis Elementary School or are active in the community.

The Cougars will likely be led by two brothers from Copperopolis — Columbia College player Brandon Russell, and his brother, Scott Russell, who recently graduated from Bret Harte and played hoops for the Bullfrogs.

The foothills team has no coach.

"We're all just kind of coaching ourselves," said Copperopolis resident Jim Burrell, a Cougar teammate.

Burrell said he's confident about his team's chances to win, but said it's hard to tell.

"These pros are going to be pretty good, because I know lots of them play in offseason," Burrell said.

Cougar teammates Burrell, Dave Ansted and Jeff Frohreich all coach basketball at Copperopolis El.

The Cougars also feature two seventh-graders at Mark Twain School in Angels Camp, Grant Herrick and Jake Coulter.

"Those are two kids who are going to go a long ways in basketball," said Burrell, who coached them in Copperopolis. "They're extremely talented in basketball."

At least 200 tickets have been sold so far. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $7 by calling Karen Turner at 785-1467.

Tickets will be on sale at the door for the same price.

All the proceeds will go to the Copperopolis school. The game has been organized by the school's Parent Teacher Club and First Down Promotions, a Bay Area company that sets up benefit basketball games in several states

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