Saturday was the final opportunity to watch a few of the area’s football standouts from four local schools —Turlock, Pitman, Hilmar and Delhi High — who played in the 44th annual Lions All-Star Football game at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.
The South squad, which had six local players competing, staged a rally in the second half to take the lead away from the North. Turlock High quarterback Danny Velasquez was responsible for all four touchdowns for the South, while the defense did their part in holding the North from scoring again. Pitman's Devan Bass secured a pair of interceptions while Jesse Flores of Delhi made a fourth quarter fumble recovery that set up the final score for a 30-17 victory.
“Me and Danny... are a great combo, you just saw a glimpse of what we will be taking to Modesto Junior College, going to be seeing a lot of this right here,” said Bass. “It's cool but crazy that I was the only Pitman player... an honor to be here and be part of it, also my last pick helped but Danny saved it for us for the most part.”
Velasquez, along with Bass, Flores, Leo Roa (Turlock) and Hilmar's Cody Rentfro and Joey Pereira paved the way for the South squad.
“I was skeptical at first but all these guys here are cool,” said Pereira. “All these kids are pure talent, athletes and stars. To be playing with them, it's more than an honor and to come back from 17-0 at halftime to win 30-17, feels good. Merced College football is next for me.”
Velasquez played most of the second half at QB, while Bass was the starting running back and No. 1 cornerback, securing playing time for the entire game.
Flores and Roa were constantly on the line while Roa was seen as the guard for over 80 percent of the offensive plays ran. Flores, along with Pereira, were also out on the field consistently playing defensive line while Flores came away with a crucial turnover late in the fourth.
“It was a nice honor to represent my team,” said Flores. “I was happy to do that, and also to meet some new guys from other teams that I heard about and finally got to play with them and feel how big a difference it can be in this game.”
Rentfro had a sack, with Flores assisting, and he also added multiple tackles, including rushing the ball for 12 yards in the fourth, setting up Velasquez's fourth and final TD of the game.
“It was intimidating at first, seeing all those big guys, but I guess the little guys have bigger hearts and can finish the game,” said Rentfro. “Even though we’ve been only practicing for a week, we got a brotherhood already, it's close, it's like our normal team right now.”
The ‘heart’ that Rentfro referred to could be seen when the South team, down 17-0 at halftime, rallied to make key plays that ended in the victory.
Velasquez started off the third as a wide receiver, before he took over the next series at QB and never let the ball go after that.
Bass had his first pick of the game in the first possession of the North in the second half and ended the drive after returning the interception for 46-yards with 6:10 on the clock.
In the ensuing drive, Velasquez connected with Modesto Christian's Chris Brown for a 26-yard touchdown reception to make it 6-17 after the missed extra point after touchdown.
Velasquez followed this with a 39-yard pass less than two minutes later and scored the two-point conversion to make it 17-14 with 4:43 left in the third.
With 50 seconds left in the third, Velasquez broke loose for a 35-yard run score that put the South up 21-17.
Velasquez had 153 total yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter alone.
Bass clinched the game with his second interception with 1:09 left in the fourth, picking off St. Mary's Jake Dunniway once again to clinch it.