One of the oldest and most prestigious high school all-star football games in California returns for its 45th edition when the 2018 Central California Lions All-Star Football Game will be played on Saturday, June 16 at Tracy High School’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.
Note: CalHiSports.com is based in Stockton and supports this all-star game as a way of giving back to the local community. We can’t offer similar coverage for other all-star games in the state, but if other games have info to send us we’ll be glad to post on the blog. Go the website lionsallstarfootball.com for additional background information & for rosters that are continuously updated. Here is direct link to rosters page:
The Lions All-Star Football Classic, which began in 1974, is one of the four oldest-running prep football all-star games in California. It also is only one of two in which players are brought together during the week before the game to stay in college dorms, emulating college life and fostering a football training camp-style experience.
The North team generally represents schools from San Joaquin County and the foothill communities to the east. The South team generally represents Stanislaus and Merced counties.
The South won last year’s game 30-17 and has gone 4-0-1 in the last five years. The North still leads in the overall series 24-18-1.
Selected in January to be the head coaches for this year were Anthony Martinez from Lincoln of Stockton and Frank Marques of Hilmar. Both of the coaches also have worked with other head coaches from other schools in the North and South to select the players for this year’s game.
On Saturday, June 9, at the Italian Athletic Club on Cherryland Avenue in Stockton, the banquet for this year’s game will be held. This is the first time the banquet is being held one week prior to the game itself. Scheduled to be guest speaker is Austin Wentworth, a former player for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
Once again as has been the case in recent years, 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.
Media members wishing to interview players and/or coaches are welcome at practices. Both teams tend to have morning practices, basically from 9 am to 11:15 am. Afternoon practices during the week also will be held, but keep in mind the following schedule of activities:
North team dinner on Tuesday, June 12 at Linden Lions Club.
North team at Stockton Ports baseball game on Wednesday, June 13.
South team dinner Thursday, June 14 at Hilmar Lions Club.
Media members should continue to check the rosters on the web site all week for changes. Those are kept updated. Additional changes could come next Monday after teams are scheduled to check in.
This year’s game is being played at Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy for the fifth 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 16 with pre-game festivities starting at 6 p.m..
This is a non-profit game and depends on pregame publicity from the media. Thanks in advance for your understanding.
Add the name Justin Sayers (Pitman, Turlock) to South roster. He’ll be No. 11. He’s a 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver.
Drop No. 60 Jarius Lovell (Modesto Downey) from South roster. No replacement named.
North Head Coach Anthony Martinez
You could say that Martinez had to face a baptism by fire in the first game he was head coach at Lincoln of Stockton. An IT director at Lincoln Unified School District for nearly 10 years, Martinez took over for previous head coach Brian Gray (also a former head coach in the Lions Game) after serving as offensive coordinator (one year) and head freshman coach (six years).
In that first game to kick off the 2016 season, Lincoln had to play at Antioch, which was expected to have one of the best teams in Northern California and featured Najee Harris, the No. 1 ranked running back in the United States. The Trojans lost but showed they could score and drive the field with Martinez’s Air Raid offense.
In his first two seasons at Lincoln, Martinez has helped the Trojans get into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs both years. They had to play top-seeded teams right away and lost with final records in both seasons of 5-6. In both seasons, there have been close losses to top-ranked teams (such as 28-27 last year to Tracy) and not-as-close losses to some of the top-ranked in the state but offensively Lincoln has been exciting and high-scoring.
Before Martinez became offensive coordinator in 2015, his final three freshman teams at Lincoln had a combined record of 29-1.
South Head Coach Frank Marques
You might not have been able to tell with six losses showing on the slate, but Hilmar High’s Frank Marques and his team had a phenomenal season in 2017.
The Yellowjackets battled hard in some close losses in the regular season, then heated up in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. They won the title with a 42-13 explosion against Modesto Christian and then went to the CIF state bowl games where they were in a Division 6-A NorCal play-in game and went toe to toe with undefeated Strathmore. Although Hilmar lost, the 53-52 double-overtime contest was regarded as one of the best games of the year in the state and Strathmore would go on to finish 15-0 and win the D 6-A state title.
The section title was the third for Marques since he became Hilmar’s head coach in 2003. This will also be the third time he’s served as the South head coach in the Lions All-Star Classic but the fourth time he’s been involved in the game. That’s because in 1981 as a player himself Frank was selected and participated.
During the 2013 season, Marques won his 100th game as Hilmar High’s head coach.
History, Last Year’s Game
For two of the last three Lions All-Star Games, the South took advantage of game rules that allow for teams to get the ball back after scoring and still being behind by 10 points or more to post come-from-behind wins of 30-17 in 2017 and 51-38 in 2015.
Turlock’s Danny Velasquez led the South on four second-half scoring drives in last year’s game to turn around a 17-0 halftime deficit. The MVP of the game threw for a pair of touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 122 yards on 10 carries with two TDs that he scored. Cullen Bearden of Oakdale shine on defense for the South with five sacks while Cutrell Haywood from Stagg of Stockton stood out for the North with a pair of TD catches.
In the 2015 Lions Game, the South scored 30 points in a row to completely turn around what looked like a certain defeat into a 51-38 victory. That was the highest-scoring game by far in the history of the series.
In the 2016 Lions Game, the huge play in the South’s 28-20 victory over the North was a 102-yard interception return for a score by Modesto Downey’s Tyran Daniels.
With the win last year, the South has now gone 4-0-1 in the last four years, but still trails in the series. The North still leads 24-18-2.
RULES OF THE GAME
12-minute quarters; every player must play at least three minutes per half; 10-point rule in effect, which means team trailing by more than 10 points receives kickoff after scoring; 10-point rule to be used only in the second half and can only be used twice but not consecutively; no stunting, blitzing, line stunting between the 10-yard lines; no block punt (exception is bad snap); No fake PAT or FG (defense can rush).
High Schools Represented In
District 4A-1 of Lions International
North – Amador (Sutter Creek), Argonaut (Jackson), Bear Creek (Stockton), Bret Harte (Altaville), Brookside Christian (Stockton), Calaveras (San Andreas), East Union (Manteca), Edison (Stockton), Escalon, Franklin (Stockton), Jim Elliot Christian (Lodi), Kimball (Tracy), Lathrop, Lincoln (Stockton), Lodi, Manteca, McNair (Stockton), Merrill West (Tracy), Millennium (Tracy), Mountain House, Ripon, Ripon Christian, St. Mary’s (Stockton), Sierra (Manteca), Sonora, Stagg (Stockton), Summerville (Tuolomne), Tokay (Lodi), Tracy, Weston Ranch (Stockton).
South – Atwater, Beyer (Modesto), Big Valley Christian (Modesto), Buhach Colony (Atwater), Central Catholic (Modesto), Central Valley (Ceres), Ceres, Chowchilla, Delhi, Denair, Dos Palos, Downey (Modesto), El Capitan (Merced), Enochs (Modesto), Golden Valley (Merced), Grace Davis (Modesto), Gregori (Modesto), Gustine, Hilmar, Hughson, Johansen (Modesto), Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Madera, Madera South, Mariposa County (Mariposa), Merced, Modesto, Modesto Christian, Oakdale, Orestimba (Newman), Pacheco (Los Banos), Patterson, Pitman (Turlock), Riverbank, Stone Ridge Christian (Merced), Turlock, Turlock Christian.