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*** 30th All-Star Game ***

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South all-stars win; Tillman honored

Published Thursday, July 22, 2004, in the San Jose Mercury News
By Mark Gomez

On a night when Pat Tillman's number was retired at the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Game, it seemed only fitting that Mike Day, the first recipient of Leland High's award named in honor of Tillman, scored the game's first touchdown.

"It's very special for the family," said Pat Tillman Sr., who received a special jersey with his son's name on it during a halftime ceremony. "Michael Day is a big deal. It's flattering he got an award with my kid's name on it."

Day and the South squad eked out a dramatic 20-15 victory on Wednesday night at San Jose City College, stopping the North five times inside the 20-yard line in the final minute.

"To come out and play like we did gave me great pride, especially with Pat's dad and the Wedemeyers here," Day said.

"Words can't describe it. It's, an unbelievable feeling."

This year's game honored Tillman, a Leland graduate who walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the U.S. Army Rangers and was killed while serving in action in Afghanistan. Tillman Sr. also joined Charlie Wedemeyer - the Los Gatos coach who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1977 - and wife Lucy Wedemeyer on the field to greet players during introductions. The Almaden Valley Rotary also presented a jersey to the parents of Tillman's widow, Marie Tillman.

"This game was unbelievable to be a part of," said South Coach Nick Alfano, the coach at Santa Teresa. "All the kids stepped up."

South scored all its points in the first half, big plays from Kevin Jurovich of Valley Christian, who caught a 78-yard touchdown pass and threw a pivotal reverse-pass to Oak Grove's Arvelle Thompson, setting up the game's final score.

Quarterback Ben Hemeon of Gilroy scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-down, 1-yard sneak in the second quarter.

"He made several big plays," Alfano said about Jurovich. "He can play any position on the field at any time. He's a special athlete."

After a scoreless, defense-oriented second half, the South was looking to run out the clock when it led with 32 seconds left and the North's Nykk Ramirez-Baker of Cupertino recovered at the South 17-yard line. After a run chewed up about 15 seconds, the North attempted four passes, including one from the 8-yard line with no time left after a pass-interference call. But Silver Creek's Kraig Kitong knocked down two of Saratoga's Brett Granum's passes in that series, including the last one, to seal the victory.

"There was a lot of drama at the end," Day said. "To be on the winning side is icing on the cake."

South   13  7  0  0 - 20
North     9  6  0  0 - 15
 S - Day(Leland) 1 run (Pierson-Valley Christian kick)
 N - Bingham(Leigh) 15 pass from Granum(Saratoga) (Bingham kick)
 S - Jurovich(Valley Christian) 78 pass from Hobbs(Willow Glen) (kick failed)
 N - Safety, punt snapped out of end zone
 N - Taufoou(St. Francis) 1 run (kick failed)
 S - Hemeon(Gilroy) 1 run (Pierson kick)