Turlock High’s J.T. Foreman and Nelson Lozano and Pitman’s Joey Stout were recognized by the Central California Athletic League coaches for their outstanding 2022 campaigns.
Foreman was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, while Lozano was the loop’s Outstanding Defensive Lineman. Stout was tabbed the Outstanding Back/Receiver of the Year, as well as the Special Teams Player of the Year.
League champion Downey swept the rest of the league awards, taking MVP (Conner Stoddard), Defensive Player of the Year (Deontae Huley), Outstanding Offensive Lineman (Remi Iniguez), Outstanding Defensive Back/Linebacker (Ethen Rowland) and Coach of the Year (Turlock High graduate Jeremy Plaa).
Turlock’s senior quarterback Cole Gilbert, senior tight end Josh Weatherbee and junior linemen Gavin Martinez and Lozano were named to the league’s first-team offense.
Senior defensive lineman Zach Macklin, junior linebacker Owen Miller, senior linebacker Gage Pritt and junior defensive back Jeremiah Bertalotto represented the Bulldogs on the first-team defense, while senior defensive lineman Alex Rodriguez represented Pitman on the squad.
The second-team offense included Bertalotto (WR) and Kristian Guerrero (OL) from Turlock and Dylan Freeman (WR) and Lucas Arizona (OL) from Pitman.
The second-team defense included Weatherbee (OLB) and Isaiah Bertalotto (DB) from Turlock and Matthew Burciaga (ILB) and Freeman (DB) from Pitman.
Turlock’s Jason Rose and Chase Hendrix and Pitman’s Drew Walker and Marc Ouse were honorable mentions.
Lions Football Classic to return
With dollars still on hand from the canceled Lions All-Star Football Classic of 2020 — due to the coronavirus pandemic — the annual summer showcase is back after a three-year absence.
The all-star game, which now will be the 47th in the series, will be staged on Friday, June 24, 2023 at 7 p.m. and will be held at Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy. The game had been held at Tracy High’s venue from 2013 to 2018 before moving to Lincoln High in Stockton in 2019.
The 47th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game was supposed to have been played on June 14, 2020, at Lincoln High’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium in Stockton. That game, along with all high school sports at that time, were canceled due to the pandemic.
There also was no All-Star Game in 2021 or 2022 as high school scheduling wasn’t back to normal until the current 2022-23 school year.
Coaches from the two teams also have been selected and they are already working on their rosters.
For the North, since he was supposed to be coaching the team in 2019, Edison of Stockton’s Booker Guyton was asked again and he has accepted again. The Vikings were coming off of a league championship team in 2019 and they are once again.
For the South, the head coach will be retiring Oakdale High legend Trent Merzon. He had never been able to coach the South team before, and the Lions All-Star Football Game committee couldn’t be more thrilled that a person of his stature is going to be involved this time. Merzon coached the Mustangs to a record of 225-62-1 in 23 seasons. His winning percentage of 78.3 is one of the highest in Northern California history among coaches with 200 wins or more.
Guyton will be assisted by one of Edison’s two coordinators, former NFL wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins. Merzon will be assisted by longtime friend Tim Garcia, the Modesto Bee’s 2021 Coach of the Year from Grace Davis of Modesto.
The North won the 2019 game 19-18 and snapped a six-game winless streak in the series. The North also leads in the overall series 25-19-1.
The Classic began in 1974 and was held at the University of Pacific’s Memorial Stadium until 2011. With that stadium at the time being prepared for its eventual demolition, the Lions game moved to Modesto Junior College for two years and for six years from 2013 to 2018 had been held at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.
The South roster, which features players from Tur lock, Pitman, Hilmar and Denair, also includes players from Atwater, Beyer (Modesto), Big Valley Christian (Modesto), Buhach Colony (Atwater), Central Catholic (Modesto), Central Valley (Ceres), Ceres, Chowchilla, Delhi, Dos Palos, Downey (Modesto), El Capitan (Merced), Enochs (Modesto), Golden Valley (Merced), Grace Davis (Modesto), Gregori (Modesto), Gustine, Hughson, Johansen (Modesto), Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Madera, Madera South, Mariposa County (Mariposa), Merced, Modesto, Modesto Christian, Oakdale, Orestimba (Newman), Pacheco (Los Banos), Patterson, Riverbank and Stone Ridge Christian (Merced).
The North roster will be made up of players from Amador (Sutter Creek), Argonaut (Jackson), Bear Creek (Stockton), Bret Harte (Altaville), Calaveras (San Andreas), East Union (Manteca), Edison (Stockton), Escalon, Franklin (Stockton), Jim Elliot Christian (Lodi), Kimball (Tracy), Lathrop, Lincoln (Stockton), Lodi, Manteca, McNair (Stockton), Merrill West (Tracy), Millennium (Tracy), Mountain House, Ripon, Ripon Christian, St. Mary’s (Stockton), Sierra (Manteca), Sonora, Stagg (Stockton), Summerville (Tuolumne), Tokay (Lodi), Tracy and Weston Ranch (Stockton).