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North defeats South 14-7

December 17, 2001|By TOM RONCO, (Special to this newspaper)

BRAWLEY — On a cold winter Saturday night, players from throughout the Imperial Valley met here for the second North/South Senior All Star football game and Imperial Valley Coaches/Players Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The North team won 14-7.

The inaugural game was played in June before the Imperial Valley Football Coaches Association, which sponsors the event, decided it would be better to play right after the season ended.

Despite the difference in temperatures and venues between the first and second games, the results were pretty much the same — whoever had Palo Verde on their side won the game.

In June Palo Verde players helped lead the South to a 20-0 victory and Saturday night it was Blythe's Rick Copple who stretched out for a pass in the waning moments of the game to give the North the come-from-behind win.


"This is exactly the way high school all-star football games are supposed to be," said North coach Jim Sturgeon of Holtville.

"I'm extremely proud of my coaching staff and the players."

In defeat, South coach Joe Apadaca from Central agreed.

"I had a great time coaching these kids and it was great to get the chance to work with kids from all over. It was a really positive experience."

Copple's catch capped an exciting second half after the defenses dominated the first half, which saw both offenses held to negative rushing yards.

"Traditionally defenses are ahead of offenses," said Apodaca. "But there was definitely not a boring moment in the game."

Part of the difficulty was the mere three days of practice that the teams were allowed.

"We were calling our own plays like it was a sandlot game," said South quarterback Manuel Ponce from Central.

Vincent Memorial's Miguel Montano agreed it was a difficult spot.

"It was difficult because we were calling our own plays and I didn't have enough time to work with the receivers to develop timing and touch," he said.

The North decided to try to keep the ball on the ground, which resulted in four fumbles but also netted its first touchdown.

The scoring drive featured 15 rushes and one key tight end-pop passing play from Brawley's Dominic Aguirre to Calipatria's Alex Farley.

Aguirre, Holtville's Frank Lopez and Brawley's Mitchell Ruiz pounded the ball on the ground with Ruiz going the final six yards.

The North then turned to West Shore Wildcat Carlos Guzman, who failed to reach the uprights despite no rush from the South as per game rules.

Montaño then drove the South to the North's 18 yard line before the drive, which featured two key passes to Central's Anthony Hellum, stalled.

Two plays later, the North fumbled at its own 21-yard line and Ponce capitalized, scoring the South's lone touchdown on a two-yard run that tied the game at 6-6.

"On that play, I basically called for a quarterback wedge and the line basically blocked the heck out of them so I could score."

Montaño was called on to break the tie.

Rushing on punts and extra points was not allowed so Montaño was faced with all 11 North players jumping, shouting and waving — but nothing else.

"Actually, I kick better when I'm under pressure but, hey, it was only an extra point," said Montano.

Down 7-6, the North got a 37-yard kick-off return from Lopez and rallied behind Aguirre and Holtville's Jon Singh who alternated at quarterback on their last drive.

"We wanted to make sure that we got the plays in right so we had the quarterbacks where we could explain the play," said Sturgeon.

Faced with third down and 17 yards to go with only 50 seconds remaining, Singh hung tough in the pocket and found Copple, who took the ball from a South defender and Brawley's Richard Encinas.

"I ran a post and he (Encinas) was supposed to run a fly pattern," explained Copple. "Jon had to dodge the rush, then the ball looked long so I stretched for it."

"I was thinking that I had to get the ball there, that the game was on the line," said Singh of the pass that was the longest of the season. "The line blocked great and I just stepped up because I had to."

Ruiz ran in the two-point conversion to conlclude the North's scoring.

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