Seniors make last stand at Optimist football game

Ford quarterbacks North team at all-star classic
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
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The 54th annual Optimist All-Star Football Game brought the greater Sacramento area’s top senior high school players to American River College Saturday night. Led by former Oakmont quarterback Alex Ford, who went the distance at the helm. the North team broke the gridlock and won 12-7 in a game that was tight for all four quarters. Representing the North was a number of local gridiron stars, including Rocklin defensive lineman Trevor Cooper, Granite Bay linebackers Nick Kempker and Jacob Kludjian along with Grizzly kicker Adam Angulo, and Lincoln offensive lineman Jacob Tryon and tight end J.J. Castillo. An early hit on a kick return at the end of the first quarter erupted a feud between teams on the field. From there, down 7-0 the North bashed its way to victory. “That hit kind of fired everybody up and then we really started to get going,” Ford said. “All of our receivers were doing a great job, but I just don’t think I was doing great getting them the ball and the South started bring a lot of blitzes, which really messed things up. The game plan was to just pound it on them and use our running weapons.” True to that, the North scored both of its touchdowns thanks to Ford’s handoffs to Devontae Booker of Grant High School. The future Washington State running back blazed a 42-yard touchdown in the first quarter pulling the North to a 7-6 deficit. Kempker of Granite Bay and Tryon of Lincoln both had important defensive outings in the Optimist venue. Kempker’s tackling kept the South at bay trying to burst through the middle and out to the sidelines. The North rallied in the final quarter after an interception in the South end zone dictated the possession heading into the fourth quarter. With the ball the North was able to hold on in the stalemate. Causing a fumble in the final 15 minutes of the low-scoring all-star bout, the North regained possession again, hurting the South’s chances of winning on their home field. A couple of goal line stops and it was the North on top. “Those late hits and fumble were huge and allowed us to kind of run out the clock and take it towards the end zone and take a knee to end it,” Ford said. “We were able to put something together with all of our great players and our running backs really helped us a lot in this game.” Along with his fellow seniors Ford and the 2010 Optimist all-stars break onto the college scene in their respective areas. Whether it be athletics, academics, professional careers or combinations of them all, the North squad will remember a near 100 degree heat football game in June of 2010.