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All-star dream comes true for DeRobertis

By Dick Sparrer

Mark DeRobertis had a dream.

Back when he was just a freshman at Westmont High School, DeRobertis hoped to one day play in the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Football Game, just as his idol, Alex Kamara, did in the summer of 2011.

This year that dream came true, and it culminated with a performance that DeRobertis couldn't have imagined even in his wildest expectations.

The speedy running back carried the football eight times for 50 yards, including an explosive 31-yard touchdown run, to help the North to a lopsided 37-3 victory over the South in the 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic played July 23 at San Jose City College.

"It's crazy, because ever since my freshman year it's always been my dream to play in this game," said DeRobertis, the Offensive Player of the Year in the Santa Teresa Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League last fall. "I just kept working every year to try to get better.

"When I started playing I really looked up to Alex Kamara and wanted to be just like him," he said of the 2011 all-star from Westmont, "so I kept working so one day I would be. I hope now that I'm someone else's inspiration."

DeRobertis, who plans to continue his playing career at De Anza College in the fall, certainly was inspiring on his first few carries last week. After his 10-yard run gave the North a first down deep in enemy territory, he took off on a 31-yard dash through the heart of the South defense. Interestingly, it was a crushing block by pulling guard Jared Lynch, his 6-foot-1, 265-pound Westmont teammate, that would spring DeRobertis for the TD run.

The score came less than two minutes after Keenan Smith (Santa Clara) had taken one in from nine yards out, and dead-eye place-kicker Luke Vereschagin (The King's Academy) followed each touchdown with the extra point.

For Vereschagin, it was a big night. The King's kicker popped four extra points through the posts and also drilled three field goals (of 20, 35 and 37 yards) that helped secure the big win. In addition, he got in on a couple of tackles and drilled six of eight kickoffs into the end zone.

"I was really happy with the way I played tonight," said Vereschagin moments after the game. "It was a great team effort and I'm really happy with the outcome. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

He'd get no argument on that score from his North teammate Bailey McNally, a Los Gatos High graduate now headed to the U.S. Marine Corps.

"It was an honor to play in the all-star game," said McNally. "It was really an honor to just be nominated. When my coach told me, I had a great feeling of pride."

McNally, an all-league defensive lineman who helped Los Gatos win the Central Coast Section Division II championship last fall, added, "It was a blast all week training for the game. This was a great way to end [my high school career]."

DeRobertis felt the same way.

"My senior year things took off because I put in so much work," he said of his super senior season when he ran for 1,056 yards on 115 tries for a 9.18 per carry average. "I can't even put into words how special this is. It's what I've been working for for so long."


It was a special night for three Saratoga players who were all involved in what was without a doubt the most exciting play of the night.

Center Clark Rothenberg snapped the ball to quarterback J.J. Walters, who lofted a 44-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to wide receiver Grant Faylor.

"That was awesome," said Rothenberg of the second-quarter scoring play. "It reminded me of the good ol' days. It was definitely my favorite play of the game."

Good ol' days indeed. The three were on the field 11 times over the past two seasons as Walters hit Faylor with touchdown passes.

"He's been my guy for the last four years," said Faylor of Walters. "It was a nice combination--a Saratoga center snapped the ball to a Saratoga quarterback who threw to a Saratoga receiver. That was awesome."

And so was the all-star experience.

"Competing with the best players was awesome," he said. "Overall, it was a great experience." Faylor, whose father John played for the North team in the 1981 summer all-star classic, is headed to Menlo College on a football scholarship.

The Saratoga TD connection was just part of the dominating night for the North all-stars, who outgained the South 412-209 in total offense and ran 61 offensive plays to the South's 54.

On the field for every one of those 61 plays was Rothenberg.

"It was great," said the Saratoga center, who sprinted down the field to congratulate his fellow Falcons after the TD toss. "I was playing with guys that were all bigger than me and bigger than anyone we had at Saratoga."

At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Rothenberg was dwarfed by the much bigger North offensive linemen: tackles Ryan Popolizio (6-foot-7, 292; St. Francis) and Jack Anderson (6-foot-5, 270; Palo Alto) and guards Lynch, William Walke (6-foot, 260; Santa Clara) and Michael Saybe (5-foot-10, 220; Milpitas).


The powerful front wall led the way to a big night offensively for the North, led by quarterbacks Christopher Lanman (Los Altos), Ronnie Reed (Milpitas), Ricky Te'o (Fremont) and Walters. The four combined to complete 8 of 20 passes for 202 yards.

Alex Andrighetto (St. Francis) led the ground attack for the North with nine carries for 62, including a 10-yard touchdown run. Te'o supported with 65 yards on five tries, DeRobertis added his 50 yards and Smith ran five times for 33.

Victor Ruiz (Los Altos) led the receiving corps with four catches for 73 yards. Bryan Erickson (Homestead) snapped a 49-yard pass, Faylor caught the 44-yarder for the touchdown, Justin Cena (Monta Vista) had a 22-yard reception and Cody Marshall (Los Gatos) caught one for 10.

But as good as the offense was, the North defense was equal to the challenge. In fact, Archbishop Mitty's Drew Mount had a historic night. The strong safety got in on an incredible 14 tackles, including a quarterback sack and one tackle that forced a fumble that David Kruskamp (Milpitas) recovered. Mount also broke up two pass plays on the night.

Sean Lydster (Gunn) finished with six tackles, McNally, Sam Saidian (Westmont) and Elijah Mosley (Leigh) were in on four each and Cristian Manjarrez (Homestead), Justin Wright (Wilcox), Corey Olivet (Los Gatos), Sione Finefeuiaki (Wilcox) and Nikita Klochko (Santa Clara) were also in on multiple stops.

Nick Meyer (Westmont), Ofisa Pati (Los Altos), Christian Nielsen (Prospect) and Jake Butters (Mountain View) were also in on tackles and Alex Ngo (Cupertino) broke up a pass.

Rounding out the North squad were Anthony Avery (Mountain View), Joseph Chang (Lynbrook), Travis Eitel (Leigh), Izaiah Gonzalez (Lincoln), Kevin Moon (Prospect), Brian Rosales (Del Mar), Derek Rositas (Homestead) and Josh Williams (Los Altos).


The South all-stars just could never get started in the game, finishing with just 209 total yards after getting stuck for losses on five plays. The South managed to get across the 50-yard line only once in the first half.

Still, quarterback Anthony McBride (Piedmont Hills) had a solid night, hitting on 8 of 20 passes for 89 yards, running five times for 24 more and even catching a pass for 16 to finish with 129 total yards.

Liam Saito (Leland) had a solid night with four carries for 20 yards and a reception for 10 more, and Anthony Logan (Pioneer) ran four times for 15 yards and caught a pass for 14. Joseph Romero (Piedmont Hills) led the receiving crew with five grabs for 42 yards and also carried twice for 14, Rayshon Mills (Christopher) caught four balls and 34 yards and threw the 16-yard pass to McBride and Marcos Mendez (Andrew Hill) caught two for 24. Donavon Ramirez (Silver Creek) completed 5 of 9 tosses for 35.

The only scoring on the night for the South, though, was a 26-yard field by Grant Bush (Bellarmine) in the third quarter.

Leading the South defensively were Victor Nonga (Branham) and Andrew Cox (Santa Teresa) with six tackles apiece. Nonga had one tackle for a loss.

Austin Changras (Bellarmine) had a quarterback sack among five tackles and Alex Boyd (Mt. Pleasant) had five stops and a pass interception.

Karl Frost (Independence) finished with four tackles and Julian Carabajal (Gilroy), Joseph Kaufusi (Willow Glen) and Alexian Fagasau (San Jose) were in on three each. Kaufusi had a QB sack.

Luis Maciel (Willow Glen), Brandon Bermudez (Santa Teresa), Andrei Arroyo (Christopher), Thomas Myers (Evergreen Valley), Isaiah Mailo (Pioneer) and Brandon Velasquez-Matau (Overfelt) were also in on multiple tackles.

Center Nathaniel Silva (Christopher), guards Arroyo, Bermudez, Mailo and Mark Riffle (Christopher) and tackles Daniel Brookbank (Pioneer), Albert Olivas (Oak Grove) and Connor Anderson (Leland) led the way up front offensively.

Matt Mohs (Leland), Philipp Lindorfer (Pioneer) and Gavin Lynam (Bellarmine) were also among the South all-stars.