The 29th annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football game will include players from Turlock, Pitman and Hilmar High.
Pitman and Hilmar will be sending three players each while Turlock has two competing in the fundraiser game for the North squad.
A total of 22 players who participated in the Lions All Star team are also returning to play on the North squad.
The North head coach, Rob Scheidt, who also coached the Lions All Star team and is the Merced head football coach, is coaching the Rotary All Star Football Classic for the third time in his career.
“We will try and do all the same things that we did with the Lions and that is what we wanted to do, especially having the same quarterback which gave us the ability to make it happen,” Scheidt said.
The game is used as a fundraiser for the Rotary's scholarship fund. It also acknowledges the talented students that live in the Central Valley.
Any student attending a participating school can apply for these scholarships and several of the All-Stars have earned the additional honor of being a scholarship winner. There are currently 34 Rotary Clubs in the valley that make contributions towards the game.
Recent Turlock High graduate Sean Downs will be taking the snaps alongside Kendel Johnson of Central Valley, both of whom were part of Scheidt’s Lions All-Star squad.
Also competing from Turlock will be Jevan Hogan, who should see time at the nickel, cornerback position and perhaps get some touches from the backfield.
Running the ball should be the team’s forte, especially with a big lineman up front leading the trenches like Pitman’s Aaron Lusher doing work from the outside position as either tackle or any position on the line.
Justin Van Fleet, a recent Pitman grad, will take the field one last time representing the Pride.
“We got Van Fleet, Logan, Lusher, Downs and Hogan...we have big plans for the Turlock guys to be a big part ...they are a great group of kids,” Scheidt said. “Great football players but better individuals and that make it fun. All played a huge role in the Lions game and we know they will step up and ball out on Friday.”
Hilmar’s Joseph Bello, who was victim of an ATV crash earlier this year, will be the honorary captain and will have a game jersey given to him.
Also joining the cast from the Yellowjackets of Hilmar are linemen Britten Smith, wide receiver and defensive back in Tyler Robinson, who tallied over 1,000 yards receiving in his senior year ,and kicker Devon Medeiros, who will be attending Sacramento State in the fall to play football.
“Devon Medeiros is a heck of a kicker so if we get close we want to kick the ball and, obviously, we got Tyler Robinson who was picked for both games and couldn’t make the Lions game so we're excited for him,” Scheidt said.
Since the team only has two practices before the game, the advantage for the North is that 22 of their players have already competed with each other and this game should be an easier transition with their same coach.
“The Lions players have a huge advantage because they’re not strangers anymore and they are closer to being a family than strangers so they're excited to see each other and we were excited to see them — but now it’s time to get a win. A tie was fun and I enjoyed the experience, but I would like to win this time,” Scheidt added.
Kickoff for the big All-Star game will be at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Veterans Stadium in Merced. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.