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North players have game faces on after fun week

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North players have game faces on after fun week

Former Sierra High standout linebacker John Perez drops back in coverage in a 7-on-7 scrimmage Friday at Stagg High as the North team prepares for today's Lions International All-Star Football Clas...

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 19, 2010 3:14 a.m.
STOCKTON — Don Norton, head coaching the North team in the 37th Annual Lions International All-Star Football Classic today at the University of the Pacific, demanded more urgency and intensity out of the players after the first of two practices Friday.

Friday’s sessions consisted mostly of non-contact drills and walkthroughs, so after a week of hard work they took things lightly — to the point where some were singing and dancing between reps.

 “We’re just having fun out here,” said former Sierra High star Jarrod Daniels. “(Division-I scouts) aren’t really allowed to come to these games anyway, but at the same time you still want to stand out against the best.

“I want to end it strong.”

Besides the two-a-days, even one dreaded three-a-day, on Stagg High’s new FieldTurf across the street from UOP, the North’s all-stars had plenty of opportunities to bond off the gridiron.

They got to live on the campus of UOP this week. They watched a Stockton Ports minor-league baseball game Thursday at Banner Island Ballpark. And after the afternoon practice Friday, they got to catch up with some old friends as spectators of the 20th Annual High School All-Star Baseball/Softball Classic.

It all kicked off on March 20 when players and coaches from both the North and South squads converged at the Peterson Event Center in Modesto for the annual banquet.

Part of the whole experience is meeting new people and befriending old rivals.

“It’s been pretty cool,” Manteca High graduate Jeff Collins said. “It was nice getting to know everybody and playing alongside some of the best in the area.”

Daniels and Collins are two of five area alumni selected to participate in one of the state’s oldest event of its kind.

Daniels was named the Bulletin’s All-Area Football MVP in the fall and, along with teammate Anthony Hall, earned a spot on the CalHiSports.com all-state medium schools team. Sierra’s all-time leading rusher owns five program records while spearheading the Timberwolves to their first Valley Oak League championship and winningest season ever with an 11-2 record.

Daniels’ future is still in limbo, but he could latch on with Washington State sometime this week if he is offered a scholarship.

Three of the area’s Lions all-stars will try out for Modesto Junior College: the 5-foot-11, 260-pound Collins, an offensive guard who transferred from West High of Tracy after his junior year; Hall, a wide receiver and placekicking extraordinaire; and Ripon’s Hart Yoshida, the Trans Valley League’s 2008 co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2008.

Sierra linebacker John Perez is still undecided.

Yoshida, the ultimate underdog at 5-7, 190 pounds, is honored to be a part of the festivities. Despite his stature, he was the area’s most productive defensive lineman over the last two seasons.

“It was an unreal feeling to be picked for this, honestly,” he said. “It’s humbling. Some of these guys are just beasts.”

The North team consists of players from San-Joaquin County schools and the Sierra Foothills, while the South representatives hail from Stanislaus and Merced counties.

The North holds a 21-14-1 edge but had a six-game winning streak snapped by the South last year with a 19-3 loss.
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