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*** 32nd All-Star Game ***
Published Thursday, July 20, 2006, in the San Jose Mercury News
During practice for the 32nd annual Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Game, Westmont receiver Chantz Staden made a big impression on North Coach Carlos Boles with his exceptional play.
"He was making one-handed catches with defenders draped all over him," Boles said.
Staden came through when it counted most for the North on Wednesday night, catching a 15-yard pass from St. Francis quarterback Rich Scudellari in the fourth quarter to give the North a 7-3 victory at San Jose City College for its first victory since 2001.
It was Staden's first reception of the night, although he ran back a kickoff 50 yards and intercepted a pass.
"I knew sooner or later I was going to get another chance; I almost had that kickoff return," Staden said. "And there was no way I was going to blow the next opportunity. There was a lot of talking going on between the teams tonight, and that made this win even more important -- it was about pride and bragging rights."
The North started the winning drive on its 35-yard line and got big plays as Scudellari hit Michael Almond (Milpitas) with completions of 26 and 19 yards, and Matt Taufoou (St. Francis) made an important third-down conversion with a 9-yard run.
On the touchdown, Scudellari rolled right to buy time and at the last second fired across his body to Staden, who ducked a tackle and waltzed into the end zone with 1:19 remaining.
The South's last chance was squelched by Carlos Alonso (Los Gatos), who picked off Duce Ferrante's pass and returned it 30 yards.
The first half was a sloppily played affair with only four first downs combined.
The South went ahead on a 22-yard field goal by Ben Hansen (Valley Christian) with 5:19 left in the second quarter. The score was set up by a 39-yard pass from Ferrante to David Carranza (Silver Creek).
The South defense got big plays from Nick D'Antonio (Pioneer), Josh Grant (Oak Grove) and Bryan North (Valley Christian) to help shut down the North until the fourth quarter.
The South had a chance to go up 10-0 midway through the second half. A.J. Alvarez (Valley Christian) recovered his second fumble of the night to give the South the ball at the North 33-yard line. On his second carry of the night, Live Oak's Dustin Muhn broke loose for a 26-yard gain to the North 4 as the third quarter ended.
But the North defense buckled down, stopping Pioneer's Shaun Souza for no gain on first down and putting the clamps on Muhn for no gain the next play. Travis Nilmeyer (Valley Christian) ran 3 yards to the 1. On fourth down, Taufoou and lineman Joe Fakalata broke through the line and smothered Souza for a 2-yard loss, giving the North an opportunity to win.
The game is played in honor of former Los Gatos coach Charlie Wedemeyer, who has lived with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since 1977, when doctors predicted he would live for three more years. Wedemeyer was at the game with his wife, Lucy, greeting players as they were introduced before kickoff.
"Words cannot describe how honored I am to have my name attached to this game," said Wedemeyer, whose wife translated for him.
"The Almaden Rotary Club has done so much for the community all these years, and this is a great way to showcase these talented athletes in their last game as high school players."