Darrell Clemons spent his varsity career trying to keep Sierra High pass-rushers LJ Alofaituli and Trevon McCray out of the backfield.
Now, the Manteca High lineman will cheer on his fiercest rivals as a teammate as they harass and hunt another.
The rosters for the 42nd annual Lions All-Star Football Classic were announced this week, erasing many of the battle lines that dictated the high school season. The game divides the Sac-Joaquin Section in half along the San Joaquin County’s southern edge, pitting players north of Manteca and Tracy against those from Modesto and beyond.
Coaches and players will report to their respective camps on June 8, kicking off a week of festivities, meet and greets and practices.
The North will invade the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, taking its cues from Chavez coach John Ward and his staff. Meanwhile, Downey coach Jeremy Plaa will orchestrate practices and team events for the South at Cal State Stanislaus.
The game is one of the oldest-running prep football all-star games in California. Last season, the north and south played to a standstill, 21-21.
For now, the most intriguing storylines are the new alliances.
The Lions All-Star Football Classic will feature five Bulletin All-Area players, including three from Sierra High, the Valley Oak League’s co-champion.
McCray was named the VOL’s Defensive Player of the Year after emerging as game-changing middle linebacker for the Timberwolves. Already a physically imposing specimen at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, McCray took his game to another level with his commitment to film study.
He literally feasted on opposing offenses, eating up their footage in the film room first and then stuffing himself with tackles on Friday evenings. McCray racked up 80 stops, including 18 for a loss, and five forced fumbles. He also had six sacks and two interceptions.
Alofaituli was the emotional leader of the Sierra defense, and his versatility at 6-2, 220 pounds allowed head coach Jeff Harbison to use him as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker.
From that edge position, Alofaituli tallied 46 tackles, including six for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.
Wide receiver Hunter Johnson joins McCray and Alofaituli on the North roster. At 6-4, Johnson was an easy target for quarterback Devin Nunez.
He had 38 receptions for 716 yards and nine TDs, including a memorable one-handed spear to beat Central Catholic, a three-time defending state champion.
Johnson made the juggling grab on a crossing route inside the 10-yard line and then vaulted a Raider defender at the goal line. He finished the game with eight catches for 134 yards.
Clemons filled some very large shoes on the Buffaloes’ offensive line. The 6-2, 260-pounder anchored the right side of the line from his guard position, creating running lanes for 1,000-yard back Hector Soto and protection for quarterback Dakarai Charles.
His play was enough to get noticed by college scouts. He and center Chase McKee recently signed letters of intent to play at Mayville State University.
Lathrop linebacker Hawaii Leafa Teo was named to the all-VOL first team as a defender, but the compact, physical all-star gives Ward options on both sides of the ball. Leafa Teo was a hard-nosed runner in Spartan coach Steven Wichmann’s offense.
The game will be played at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium on June 13. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.lionsallstarfootball.com.