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Despite both quarterbacks from the North team in this Saturday’s 40th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game being named Zack Johnson, there should be no confusion for any coaches, players or public address announcers.
“It’s been easy,” said Jason Weathersby, the head coach at Calaveras of San Andreas who is directing the North team in this year’s game. “One player is No. 4 and other is No. 7. And it’s not like they’re hanging out together all the time.”
The two Zack Johnsons will be hoping to direct a North team that has won eight of the last nine in the local all-star series, including 30-0 in last year’s contest.
Weathersby’s own Zack Johnson, who quarterbacked Calaveras to an 8-3 record last fall with 1,532 yards and 22 TDs, has had a busier week than most of the players since he’s had to fit graduation ceremonies and practices in between football.
“I’ve played on teams with someone with the same first name or last name, but never both,” said Calaveras Zack, who has been accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. “Despite us playing the same position, there hasn’t been much confusion as it’s been clear when coach wants us.”
The other Zack Johnson starred at Kimball of Tracy last season. He missed three games with an injury, but in seven games still passed for 1,227 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for another 678 yards and six scores.
“A couple of times when the coaches have yelled ‘Zack’ we’ve both looked, but other than that there’s been no confusion,” said Kimball Zack, who is planning to play at Modesto Junior College next season. “We share a lot of the same commonalities. We both have a passion for the game and we’re looking to have a lot of fun with everybody else on the team this week.”
“He’s super smart and understands everything we’re trying to do,” Weathersby said of the Zack Johnson he’s been coaching at Calaveras. “It’s been great getting to coach him this last time.”
As for the other Zack Johnson, Weathersby said people going to the game will be in for a treat.
“The way he can get away from pressure is unbelievable,” the coach said. “He’s also picking up everything this week pretty quickly.”
South QB Not Named Zack Johnson
Unfortunately for the North all-stars, the South quarterback at the center of attention will be Aaron Zwahlen, but that will be more about his obvious talent.
Zwahlen was among the state leaders last season with 3,852 yards passing and 49 touchdowns. He led his team at Downey of Modesto to a 10-2 record. Among his outings were 454 yards in a 24-20 win against Beyer of Modesto and seven touchdown passes in a 49-7 romp past Golden Valley of Merced.
As a Division I signer with the University of Hawaii, Zwahlen would normally be a quarterback who wouldn’t be playing in a summer all-star game. He is playing in the Lions Game, however, because his next stop is not a Hawaii football practice but going on a Mormon mission. Zwahlen also is upholding a family tradition of playing in this particular all-star game.
Kevin Swartwood, who has guided Buhach Colony of Atwater to a 34-4 record over the past three seasons, is the head coach of the South all-stars.
Among the players who have been in the Lions All-Star Game in its 40-year history have been Super Bowl winners Logan Mankins and Derek Kennard. Two former players were chosen in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft – Trumaine Johnson of the St. Louis Rams and Amini Silatolu of the Carolina Panthers.
This year’s game at Modesto Junior College starts at 7 p.m. with pre-game announcements beginning at 6:40. Admission is $10.