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*** 27th All-Star Game ***

Defense lifts North to all-star win

Published Thursday, July 26, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News

The South delivered the big rushing statistics in the Charlie Wedemeyer all-star high school football game Wednesday, gaining over 200 yards on the ground.

But the North's defense, which created five turnovers, was the deciding factor.

The North scored all its points off turnovers, opened a 21-point lead and held on for a 24-17 victory in the 27th annual Santa Clara County all-star game at Independence High.

"Great games on both sides of the ball for us," North Coach Ken Padia said. "Everybody did a great job."

The North's defense was led by Monta Vista's Justin Douglas, who made two first-half interceptions that led to touchdowns. Wilcox's Matt Velo also intercepted a pass.

Douglas picked off a pass from Silver Creek's Izayas Castillo in the first quarter, returning it 29 yards to the South 25. The North capitalized when Del Mar quarterback Jason Campbell found Santa Clara's Paul Garces for a 14-yard touchdown on fourth down.

Douglas struck again in the second quarter, intercepting a pass by Santa Teresa's Freddy Ramos and returning it 48 yards to the South 1. Two plays later, Gunn's Dustin Steward plunged into the end zone with 49 seconds remaining to give the North a 17-3 halftime lead.

"I didn't have a pickoff all year," Douglas said, adding he felt robbed he wasn't given the touchdown on his second interception return. "It felt really good to help out the team."

The North increased its lead to 24-3 when Milpitas' Michael Collins scored on a 15-yard run after the defense recovered a fumble at the South 25.

The South responded by marching 67 yards in six plays, capped by Jason Harrison's 6-yard scoring run.

After Ramos scored on a 12-yard run to cut the North's lead to seven, the South threatened to tie the score when Harrison delivered rushes of 20 and 32 yards, taking the drive to the North 23. But with one minute left, the comeback stalled with four consecutive incompletions.

The Charlie Wedemeyer all-star game is named after the former Los Gatos coach who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1977.