For Turlock High varsity football head coach James Peterson, the success from the fall season of 2016 carried over into the 32nd Annual North/South Rotary Football game where he had the honor of coaching for the first time.
Peterson coached an All-Star victory this past Saturday from Golden Valley High after his North squad, which included five local players, picked up the 33-19 victory over the South team.
Peterson help lead the Bulldogs to their first Central California Conference title since 2003, after finishing a perfect league record in 2016 at 6-0, ending the regular season with a victory over Pitman for a winner take all situation for the CCC.
That Pride team also included Devan Bass, who was part of Peterson's squad for the North team and played a strong role on the offensive side of the ball this past Saturday, starting at running back.
Joining Bass was Turlock's Dom Silva, Mustafa Noel-Johnson, Danny Velasquez and Leo Roa, and Peterson’s entire coaching team were all part of the North squad.
“It felt good to play in this game,” said Silva. “Especially it being with my coaches, the people I started all with, meant a lot to me to finish with them. We had so many memories this past year and so much work put in with them it was great to play this one last game with them, nice honor.”
The North squad led 7-0 after the first quarter, but went down 12-7 in the second quarter with 4:30 left.
Following the South's touchdown, Velasquez took over the offense and marched down the field and tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Conner Johnson of Ceres to take a 14-12 lead.
They didn't give up the lead after that.
Chris Lubinsky of Ceres connected with high school teammate Marcellus Boykins for 28 yards to extend the North’s lead to 20-12 at the half.
Velasquez then tossed his second of three touchdown passes in the third quarter on a fake field goal toss to Noel-Johnson from nine yards out to make it 26-12.
“Danny is a true MVP,” said Peterson. “He goes and does his thing all year at Turlock and shines at the Lions game and now in Rotary. As far as playing college ball... he speaks for himself. How many times does he have to prove it? He is fun to coach and a warrior, he just needs someone to give him a shot.”
Velasquez followed with a 54-yard touchdown sling to go up 33-19.
Noel-Johnson had a pair of sacks while Silva finished with over half a dozen tackles. Roa was steadily playing at guard throughout the game.
“I think the main thing that kept us in play was defense and I knew we would be a handful up front with the guys we have. Those guys will play in anybody's league and be great players,” said Peterson.
Nicolas Berry of Turlock was also named the honorary captain.
“Nicolas Berry, had him at varsity last three years and he’s always been that vocal leader. I don’t know where he gets the courage to talk and share his wisdom, great motivator and great person,” Peterson said. “I knew it’d be an advantage to have him there to coach in a way since I knew he couldn’t play.”
Silva, Velasquez, Noel-Johnson and Bass will all be playing for the Modesto Junior College football team in the upcoming season.
“Sky is the limit, they just need to focus on academics and play ball,” Peterson added. “They are in good hands with Rusty. They will have a great chance to go on and move out.”