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Produced by Almaden Valley Rotary Club

North stars rout South in Charlie Wedemeyer all-star game

By Darren Sabreda

SAN JOSE -- The North took the field Wednesday night for the 40th Charlie Wedemeyer high school all-star game looking like a team determined for victory, a squad that had spent more than 10 days together.

The players followed a highly-charged entrance into San Jose City College with a display that left the South terribly overmatched and the outcome decided well before the second quarter ended.

The North built a 31-point halftime lead on its way to a 37-3 victory, the widest margin in the series featuring recently graduated seniors since the South won 43-3 in 1990.

"I'm just so proud," said Los Altos' Trevor Pruitt, who coached the North. "It's tough, 10 days to get all the guys on one page. All of our guys were on one page. It was great to see."

In a game named in honor of Wedemeyer, a former Los Gatos coach who died four years ago after a long battle with ALS, the North left the South in its wake from the opening kickoff with a balanced mix of running and passing.

As running backs Alex Andrighetto of St. Francis, Keenan Smith of Santa Clara and Mark DeRobertis of Westmont moved the chains with ease on the opening series, the North covered 83 yards in 12 plays for its first score.

Christopher Lanman threw a 25-yard pass to his Los Altos teammate Victor Ruiz to move the North to the South's 31. Five plays later, Smith ran 9 yards for a touchdown. Lanman said he was inspired by Wedemeyer and his widow, Lucy.

"She obviously has done a lot for all of this," Lanman said. "I commend her for everything she has done. This was a huge deal, representing the whole Wedemeyer name. Everyone was fired up."

After forcing a three-and-out on the South's first possession, the North responded with another score. This time, it took two DeRobertis runs to go 41 yards for a 14-0 lead. Andrighetto extended the cushion to 21-0 with a 10-yard run in the second quarter.

"As a team, we didn't want to come out flat," Andrighetto said. "We knew we were going to run the ball. We pounded it three times, switched running backs, fresh legs, all was good."

The North carried four quarterbacks -- Lanman, Milpitas' Ronnie Reed, Fremont's Ricky Te'o and Saratoga's Jonathan Walters -- and all made contributions before halftime. Walters delivered the most electrifying scoring play, throwing a strike down the right sideline to his Saratoga teammate, Grant Faylor, for a 44-yard touchdown that extended the lead to 31-0.

"I can't say enough about the guys," Pruitt said. "Having four quarterbacks being selfless and understanding that the playing time is going to be mixed around, your series might come quick or it might go longer."

Luke Vereschagin, a kicker from The King's Academy, had quite a night. He kicked three field goals (20, 35 and 37 yards) and four extra points. Bellarmine College Prep's Grant Bush ended the North's shutout bid when he kicked a 26-yard field goal that made it 31-3 midway through the third quarter.

But that was not his most impressive play. With the South punting early in the first quarter, the snap sailed over Bush and into the end zone. But Bush, who also plays defensive back, scrambled to retrieve the ball and still managed to punt the ball to the 41.

The South had a shot to score a touchdown late in the third quarter when Piedmont Hills' Anthony McBride threw a deep pass to Andrew Hill's Gabe Flores. But Los Gatos' Corey Olivet, who helped the Wildcats win a Central Coast Section title last fall, sped in to break up the throw.