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South wins IVFCA all-star tilt

June 02, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — The Imperial Valley Football Coaches Association's inaugural North/South high school senior all-star game was supposed to be played for fun to allow players one last chance at representing their alma maters here Friday.

But by the end of the night this "fun" game had turned into a heated battle played with the intensity of a championship game with the South's all-stars — Calexico, Central Union, Palo Verde, Southwest and Vincent Memorial high schools — coming out on top shutting out the North — Brawley Union, Calipatria, Holtville, Imperial and West Shores — 20-0.

"The game plan for this was simple: We just wanted everyone to have fun," said Calexico coach Richard Gonzalez. "I felt we had really good athletes on this team. And we wanted to let those athletes go out there and make some plays."

Some of the athletes who made plays for the South, and seemingly stole the show, were the players from Palo Verde. The Yellow Jackets' Mike Judd was named offensive most valuable player, finishing with 67 yards of total offense with two touchdowns. Teammate Chris O'Campo was chosen defensive MVP. Judd, O'Campo and teammate Aaron Terry accounted for 14 of the South's 20 points.

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"The guys from Palo Verde helped tremendously. I was kind of surprised with how well, not just them, but how everyone played together. Everyone just seemed to gel," said Gonzalez. "This was a great game and I think everyone out here had fun. It is a kind of special feeling to be the winning coach of the very first game. But a lot of credit also has to go to my staff. They pretty much took care of everything and I just oversaw it all."

Heading into the contest the South's game plan was to let its athletes make plays, get on the board early, sit on the lead and play defense.

That's exactly what it did as the plan played out perfectly.

The South started the game on the ground utilizing the running of Terry, Calexico's Nathan Armstrong and Vincent Memorial's Allan Niebla.

After running the ball its first 13 plays of the game the South finally went airborne as Niebla connected with Judd on a 25-yard pass for a touchdown. A missed extra point gave the South a 6-0 lead with 1 minute 52 seconds to play in the first.

Five plays into the North's ensuing drive Imperial's Ben Talancon muffed the ball and the South recovered at the North 42-yard line.

On the first play of its drive, Judd connected with O'Campo on a 41-yard bomb for the South's second score of the game at the 10:36 mark of the second quarter. Terry ran in the 2-point conversion to give the South a 14 point advantage.

After holding the North to -1 yard of offense on its next three drives, the South had another chance to add to its lead with less than two minutes to go in the half.

Two plays after starting at the 42-yard line, Armstrong burst free for a 58-yard run, breaking three tackles on his way to the South's third and final score of the contest with 1:26 remaining in the half. A failed two-point try put the score at 20-0 heading into the intermission.

Led by Armstrong, O'Campo, Niebla, Calexico's Ezequiel Solis and Central's Gio Zavala, the South defense held the North to 36 yards in the first half. On the flip side, the North defense gave up 175 offensive yards.

"What we wanted to do in the first half was just put numbers on the board and that's what we did. Their defense was pretty good, but we were just able to make some plays on offense," said Armstrong, who finished with 90 yards total offense (85 rushing). "The second half we just wanted to play defense. Offensively, I wanted to get a few more carries in the second half, but coach didn't let me. I think I could've broken another long run, but I'm still happy with how we did."

After scoring 20 points and putting up 175 yards in the first half, the South's offense cooled down in the second as the North held it scoreless and limited it to 71 yards.

With its defense holding the South in check, the North offense put up 90 yards in the second half.

For the game, Calipatria's Raul Palazuelos finished with 34 yards rushing on 14 carries and Imperial's Ben Talancon, who played quarterback, ended with 50 yards of total offense passing and rushing.

"They had a good game plan. They had good players for the game plan they had and they just outprepared us," said Brawley coach Jon Self, who was head coach for the North. "We didn't underestimate them. We knew what to expect and I told our guys what to expect. We just made some mistakes.

"Overall, we didn't play very good at all in the first half. But at half time, I gave our guys a talk, a gut-check talk. And they came out and played a lot better in the second half," said Self. "I think this whole thing was a very positive experience. I mean, on our team we had players from Calipat, Imperial and Holtville, who during the year are bitter rivals. And then to see them playing together as teammates, what more could you ask for? This was just a really good experience for everyone."

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