The last time that these two players from St. Mary’s of Stockton were on a football field it was for one of the most intense CIF state title games ever played. QB Jake Dunniway and DE Jordan Stinhilver will both be playing for the North in this Saturday’s Lions All-Star Game in Tracy.
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Even six months later, it’s not hard to get players from St. Mary’s of Stockton to react strongly when thinking about the final minutes of their football team’s 38-35 overtime loss to Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in the CIF Division I state championship.
“Did you know,” began one question to recent St. Mary’s grads Jake Dunniway and Jordan Stinhilver, “that there are some who think that Cathedral Catholic should be considered the best team ever from San Diego because they finished undefeated and won a state title?”
“Oh, man,” Dunniway said while shaking his head. “We should have won that game.”
Dunniway, the star quarterback of the team, and Stinhilver, who led the team in sacks, are going to be teammates again on Saturday in their first game since being in that CIF state final in the 44th annual Central California Lions All-Star Classic. They will be on the North team, which represents schools from the Stockton/Lodi and Mother Lode communities against a South team that is primarily from schools in the Modesto/Turlock/Merced corridor.
Many others from St. Mary’s who witnessed that CIF state final will be shaking their heads for many years about it as well.
The Rams had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter at 28-14, but gave it up on 8-yard and 77-yard touchdown passes from Tate Haines to Jack Thompson and Shawn Poma. Then with 1:25 left, Dunniway had a pass intercepted by the Dons’ Morrison Mirer, who took it back for a 46-yard touchdown and a 35-28 Cathedral Catholic lead. Dunniway then came back himself with 45 seconds left by throwing a 70-yard TD pass with 45 seconds left to Aaron Jenkins that ended up forcing overtime at 35-35.
St. Mary’s then looked poised to score first in overtime, but on a fourth and one play from the 1-yard line Dunniway was tackled short by Mirer. Cathedral Catholic then won it on a 20-yard field goal by Liam King.
“You work hard all four years and then to have a game like that you never completely get over it,” said Dunniway, who passed for 4,066 yards and 49 TDs and was the Stockton Record’s Player of the Year. “We’re still proud of all of our accomplishments and nothing really changes that.”
“We had finals that week too,” said Stinhilver, who had 64 tackles and 13 sacks last season for the St. Mary’s defense. “It was heartbreaking but now we can tell jokes about some of the things that happened in that game.”
The Rams, who won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 title with a victory over four-time defending champ Folsom and won the CIF NorCal D1 crown a win against Freedom of Oakley, ended 14-2 and were No. 6 in the final state rankings. Their only other loss was to No. 1 St. John Bosco of Bellflower.
The two players are now on a different team for an all-star game that has also seen its share of wild finishes. Last year’s South team won 28-20 with the help of a 102-yard interception return for a score while the year before that the South won 51-38 in the highest scoring game in the event’s 43-year history.
“I’m really excited to get back on the field,” said Dunniway, who is headed to UC Davis in the fall. “I’m feeling great about the guys on this team and hopefully we’ll put on a show.”
“It’s refreshing and surprising to get to come out here,” said Stinhilver, who is going to play next at Delta College in Stockton and knows that at his size he’ll have to become a linebacker to get a chance to play at a four-year college. “I spent a long time thinking about that last game so I’m happy to be able to come out here and to be back. Hopefully, I can get a few sacks.”
Those two from St. Mary’s are not the only ones who will be in Saturday’s Lions Game who have played in a CIF NorCal or CIF state final.
For the North, running back Kameron Beamon of Manteca played for the Buffaloes in their loss to Menlo-Atherton in the NorCal D3AA game. Linebacker Bradley Canepa of Sonora played for his school as a junior in a loss to Hanford in the NorCal D4AA contest.
For the South, recent Oakdale grad Cullen Bearden (linebacker) was part of a team that crushed Bishop’s of La Jolla 47-0 in the CIF Division 3A state championship. The South roster also includes Central Catholic of Modesto’s Cole Petlansky (QB), Austin Cook (OL) and Bryce Wade (kicker), who were on that school’s CIF Small School Open Division state title team in 2015 as juniors.