FB: Central California Lions Get Going

Players and coaches for the 43rd annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game were reporting for practice on Monday, June 13 in preparation for this year’s game, which will be played on Saturday, June 18 at Tracy High School’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.

North players will be practicing at Stagg High School in Stockton near where they will be staying for the week at University of the Pacific dorms. South players will be practicing and staying at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock.

This year’s game is being played at Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy for the third straight year after two years at Modesto Junior College (2012-2013). It was held from its inception until 2011 at The University of Pacific’s Stagg Memorial Stadium. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 with pre-game festivities starting at 6 p.m..

Head Coaches

Don Norton from Stagg of Stockton has been chosen this year to direct the North team while Rob Cozart of Patterson will lead the South.

Norton has had CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff teams that last seven seasons at Stagg, including a 10-2 league championship team in 2013. He also coached the North team to a win in the 2010 Lions All-Star Game. He has been the head coach at Stagg for 11 seasons and has been a longtime supporter of the Lions All-Star Game.

Cozart returned to coach at Patterson last season after being in the junior college ranks. He previously coached the Tigers from 2003 to 2010. Last year’s return was a huge success as well. Patterson went unbeaten in the regular season, then lost in a matchup of 11-0 vs. 11-0 teams in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs to Placer of Auburn.

History, Last Year’s Game

After a series of years in which the North team was dominant, the South has won two of the last three contests with a 21-21 tie from 2014. Last year’s 51-38 game was the highest-scoring game by far in the history of the series and featured the South scoring 30 points in a row to completely turn around what looked like a certain defeat.

The 51-38 final score obliterated the previous best two-team total for points in the game of 38-35 set in 1996. The South’s 51-point total also broke the record of 42 set by the North in 2003.

Nate Phillips of Modesto sparked the turnaround with two TD passes and an 18-yard run with 30 seconds left. He was the MVP of the game. The North’s Nate Jones (Tracy) was MVP for offense while Jakob Magana (Modesto Downey) was MVP for defense.

Still, despite last year’s loss, the North leads in the series with a record of 24-16-2.

The Lions All-Star Football Classic, which began in 1974, is one of the four oldest-running prep football all-star games in California.


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