STOCKTON – The South fired the first shot but the war was won by the North in a 21-6 victory during the 38th Annual Lions All-Star Football game at the University of the Pacific Saturday.
Trailing 6-0, the North handed the reins over to East Union High graduate Teejay Gordon. It was arguably the best move made by North head coach Todd Dillon of Lodi High. Gordon came in and immediately produced results, guiding the North to consecutive scoring drives and taking a 14-6 lead late in the first half.
The latter of the two would end Gordon’s night, as he rolled out to the right to avoid pressure only to get a pass off to the back of the end zone, but then succumb to a vicious hit under his chin that would require immediate medical attention.
“He played well for us,” Dillon said of Gordon after the win. “He’s a very athletic kid and he put the ball on the money for our tight end; it was good to see and he was fun to watch.
“I was really happy for the kid.”
Gordon was not initially included on the North’s roster, but was allotted a spot due to the injury of childhood friend and Manteca High starting quarterback Matt Burrows.
The North got on the board with 4:12 remaining in the second quarter when Gordon put together a 15-play, 78-yard scoring drive that culminated with his six-yard touchdown run.
The North would add another score on the ensuing possession, also led by Gordon until the injury sidelined him on the final scoring play. The game’s Offensive Player of the Game, Casey Wichman of Tracy, tossed a nine-yard strike to put the North up 14-6 at the half.
The one touchdown cushion was all the stingy North defensive unit would need. Led by the game’s Most Valuable Player Monti Wilson of Calaveras, the North made the lead stand tall, not allowing the South into the red zone one time throughout the second half.
Ripon High standout Andy Bunting played an integral part in the defensive unit’s success, teaming up for a host of second half tackles, including one which left a South running back searching for his helmet at the play’s end.
“This coaching staff really respected us a lot all week,” Bunting said of the North’s coaching group. “They treated us like men, almost like we were NFL players. They knew that we were the best of the best in our areas and so they acted like it.
“They made sure that we were mentally sharp and doing things the right way out there.”
Manteca High standout and Valley Oak League reigning MVP Robert Ladiges played the entire game for the North, getting reps on both the offensive and defensive ends. His Manteca teammate Josh Nkwocha also played on both sides of the ball, getting some key short-yardage situations late in the second half.