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Eight local standouts selected for Lions All-Star game
Hilmar’s Frank Marques to head South squad
The Journal’s local talent are ready for this year’s Lions All-Star Football Classic (left to right) with Denair’s Blake Davis and Turlock’s Gabe Cordero, Tyler Etharidge, Brandon Flores along with Justin Sayers (Pitman). Chris Flores (Hilmar) and Jordan Porter (Turlock) kneel in the front. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

This weekend’s 45th edition of the Lions All Star Football Classic will feature athletes from Pitman, Turlock, Denair and Hilmar high schools.

To makes things even more interesting, the South squad, which features athletes from these schools, will be coached by the Hilmar Yellowjackets staff, headed by Frank Marques.

Marques and his team captured a blue banner this past fall after they made a remarkable run in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI playoffs, winning in the final over Modesto Christian in convincing fashion.

Now coach Marques is expecting his all-star cast to perform this weekend.

“We can expect to win. You play for only one reason — to win football games and the reason we are here is to win and we are battling to win,” said Marques. “We have a great group of kids and these kids are serious and it should be a fun game.”

Hilmar’s lone player for the game will be All-Journal selection and defensive back Chris Flores.

“Honestly just blessed, it’s a good feeling, not many people get this chance and I am grateful that I got this opportunity to play with the best in the area now,” said Flores. “It is time to prove what I can do.”

Flores was part of the Hilmar Yellowjackets Section Championship run in the Division-VI playoff bracket that was unexpected after they toppled the No. 3, No. 2 then the No. 4 seed as the No. 6 seed with a 5-5 regular season record.

“I was grateful enough to get this opportunity and it’s time because all these coaches put in a lot of work all spring, summer and all that,” said Flores. “So, to come out and do what they do, they led us to a state game so I have a lot of confidence in them. Big time schools and players, when those pads are on expect a lot of hard hits.”

Five from Turlock are part of the squad in Jordan Porter (WR), Gabe Cordero (OLB), Tyler Etharidge (RB), Dallin Tilby (kicker) and center Brandon Flores.

Pitman will be represented by wide receiver Justin Sayers after the Pride concluded their final season in the Central California Conference. Blake Davis of Denair is the Coyotes lone representative.

“Being selected is really cool, I am just excited to compete with all these guys because I know a lot of these names, played against a lot of them,” said Sayers. “It’s cool to be a teammate of theirs. These guys are super athletic and they will be helping me out. Game time will be all South side, I heard they are talking already so I know we are going to go out and do our thing.”

Davis was part of the Coyotes magical run in the fall of 2016 that saw the ‘Mighty 16’ go 6-4 during the regular season, making national headlines and earning a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

“It’s crazy to think because I come from a small school, not a D-I, a D-VI, so I am really looking forward to this,” said Davis. “It’s exciting for me because the last time somebody from Denair made it was 2003, so it’s been quite a while so I feel pretty special.”

The Bulldogs of Turlock secured a second straight Central California Conference this past season after going a perfect 6-0.

“We never lost in the CCC so to end it with not losing is pretty dope,” said Porter. “The previous leaders like Mustafa (Johnson) and Danny (Velasquez) really put it on us that we have the talent to compete and we just gave it the best we could all year.”

The 45th annual game is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday from Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected because there are only two all-star games in the area and to be able to be even in the conversation it’s huge,” said Porter.