The City All-Stars capitalized on a safety and an interception late in the game to take home All-Star game honors at Deran Koligian Stadium, the home of the Central Grizzlies, on Friday night.
A total of 19 seniors from the TRAC were selected between the two squads in the 65th City/County All-Star game.
The game featured some of the best graduating seniors in the Central Valley. Clovis North and Clovis West had seven players combined on the City roster, while Buchanan, Clovis East and Clovis High had 12 players on the County roster.
Points and big plays were hard to come by early on, but Madera Coyotes quarterback Colt Nelson provided the initial spark in the second quarter with an 82-yard touchdown pass to Central’s Milton Clements before halftime.
Clements’ short catch and run was one of only four touchdowns on the night. Trent Tompkins had a touchdown pass and Roosevelt Rough Riders quarterback Angel Maldonado had both a passing and rushing score with the help of Golden Eagles bruiser Eric Castillo, who provided the needed protection, up front.
But defensive plays ruled the day for both teams.
Clovis Cougar Cristian Loera lined up on the outside and broke up a touchdown pass in the endzone to help keep his County team in the game in one of his last appearances as a Clovis Cougar.
The defensive stop was a key moment in the game, and Loera was just thankful he was there at the right time.
“I’m glad I made the play.”
“It was a great experience to go out there one last time for Clovis High and I’m just glad I got the opportunity,” Loera said. “So many talented guys out here and I was happy to be out here with all of them.”
Buchanan Bears Chase Bibler and Steven Scheidt were key for the County defense, solidifying their defensive line and linebacker corps, and Clovis West’s Thomas Curran was a nightmare for the County offense with two sacks, an interception and a relentless pass rush that forced Nelson and Tompkins into hurried throws all evening.
Curran had a dominating night but having the chance to play with his former teammates was just as fun.
“It’s been an adventure,” Curran said at the end of his high school football career. “There were five other Clovis West dudes out here to experience this with and it was just good to be out here with them.”
In terms of his play on the field, Curran just went out there did what he does –– wreak havoc on the opponent’s offense.
“I had a pretty good night. I had fun, got to play out there and get my blitzes and it was just fun that I got to play,” Curran said.
When the fourth quarter rolled around, the sense of urgency began to pick up. The game was all even at seven after future Fresno State Bulldog and former San Joaquin Memorial star Josh Kelly caught a touchdown pass to tie the game, responding to Nelson’s long score.
Players were more animated on the field after a big hit or after a big run and catch and both teams wanted to win, but time was running out.
After a muffed punt by the County team that resulted in a safety and a 9-7 lead for City late in the game, Curran came up big.
The former Golden Eagle picked off Valley Champion Tompkins in his own red zone, setting up a short touchdown run by Maldonado to take a 15-7 lead after a missed extra point.
Tompkins led the County comeback with an 11-yard touchdown to Preston Conti from Minarets and on his next possession. Trailing 15-13, Tompkins connected on a 43-yard pass with only minutes remaining to set up the potential game-winning field goal.
Tompkins took the kick, but the ball was drilled directly into the offensive line blocking for him, ending the game in favor of the City team.