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Past, present stars honored

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Past, present stars honored

Manteca High lineman Daniel Clemons opens up a hole during the Buffaloes’ 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III first-round playoff game against Cosumnes Oaks.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 13, 2013 1:18 a.m.

The past along with the present is being recognized this week in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Central California Lions All-Star Football Classic, one of the state’s four original prep contests of its kind.

The lone area representatives in this Saturday’s game are Manteca High lineman Daniel Clemons and Sierra running back Anthony Cota. Modesto Junior College is hosting the event for the second straight year. Pre-game festivities begin at 6 p.m., and kickoff is set for 7.

Former teammates turned rivals will be teammates once again with Clemons and Cota competing for the North. Cota played at Manteca as a freshman before transferring and breaking several rushing records for Sierra. He was named the Bulletin’s All-Area MVP, Valley Oak League Offensive Player of the Year and all-Sac-Joaquin Section honorable mention team. The powerful runner led the Timberwolves to a 10-2 record while racking up 1,966 yards and 38 touchdowns.

Clemons earned Manteca’s Most Valuable Lineman Award after being named to the all-VOL first team offense and defense. He started at center offensively and had 42 tackles and three sacks on defense.

Clemons continues Manteca’s strong tradition of Lions All-Stars. Two Buffalo greats have been named to the 40-Year-Anniversary All-Time Lions All-Star Classic Team:  defensive lineman Steve Dunigan and defensive back Don Morgan. Dunigan was a big part of Manteca’s back-to-back run of section championship game appearance, winning one as a junior in 2001. Morgan went on to star at Nevada and played four years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings (three years) and Arizona Cardinals.

Three players have been added to the all-time team since its initial unveiling in the 35th year-anniversary. Trumaine Johnson (Edison) and Amini Silatolu (West) are both currently in the NFL,  and Cody Wichmann  (Mariposa) plays for Fresno State.

The North team, led by Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby, looks to continue its recent run of dominance. Last year, local standouts Zach Penirian (Sierra WR), TJ Williams (East Union WR), Jamie Christopherson (Lathrop LB) and James Vander Schaaf (Ripon Christian LB) were part of a 30-0 beatdown of the South, which has dropped eight of the last nine. The North team leads the series, 24-14-1.

Several of the VOL’s top graduates are split between the two teams. Kimball QB Zach Johnson and Sonora FB/ILB are among the notables on the North. VOL and SJS Division III titlist Oakdale has three representatives — twins Miko and Hondo Arpoika and Bastian Jimenez — on Team South, which includes one of the state’s most proficient passers in Aaron Zwalhen (Downey) and RB Rey Vega of state champion Central Catholic. Buhach Colony’s Kevin Swartwood coaches the South.

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