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Produced by Almaden Valley Rotary Club

North capitalizes when South's trickery backfires

By Dennis Knight

Pioneer Coach Mark Krail's bag of tricks turned out to be a mixed bag Wednesday.

Krail, leading the South squad for the third time in the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Classic, had success with his first gimmick. But the second one backfired, and the North took advantage for a 21-19 victory at Spartan Stadium.

Krail's first call worked like a charm and opened the scoring. Ricky Battipede of Leland lined up to kick a 27-yard field goal, but holder Tanner Burns of Valley Christian flicked the ball forward to Gunderson's Roger Rose Jr., who sprinted around the corner untouched for a 10-yard scoring pass with 9:32 left in the second quarter.

The second attempt at trickery was thwarted in the third quarter. Leading 12-7, Krail called for a fake punt, but Independence's Jaleel Mackey was wrapped up by James McCollough of Palo Alto, leaving the North with a short field of 32 yards.

The key play in the ensuing scoring drive was a 30-yard pass from Del Mar's Anthony Cukar to Westmont's Trevor Vlay, who made a spectacular diving catch. That set up a 4- yard touchdown run by Los Gatos' Nick Kalpin to give the North a 14-12 lead.

"We knew that was their mentality and tried to prepare for it," North Coach Ray Wright of Lynbrook said of the trick plays. "But they have some fast kids, and their speed killed us at times."

The South had trouble running the ball early as Los Gatos defensive lineman Karl Winkelman spent much time in the backfield making tackles for losses.

But Yerba Buena quarterback Arjun Ashokkumar hit a wide-open Kevin Krail (Leland) for a crucial 11-yard gain on third-and-one late in the second quarter. Andrew Hill's A.J. Ellis followed with an impressive 15-yard run to the 3, then punched it in on the next play to give the South a 12-0 lead.

The North rallied behind quarterback Danny Young (Los Altos), going on a 60-yard scoring drive to end the first half. Young hit Andy Meunier, a 6-foot-8 tight end from Lynbrook, for 14 yards, then found Fremont's Kenney Pope on passes of 21 and 5 yards, mixing in an 11-yard scramble for a first down.

With 13 seconds left, Sullivan hit Palo Alto's Mike Scott in stride for a 17-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline, bringing the North to within 12-7.

"When you get a player like Scott one-on-one with a defender, you just try to get him the ball," Sullivan said. "I threw it up, and he made the play."

After Kalpin's third-quarter run gave his team a 14-12 lead, the North kept the momentum. Fremont's Daunte Mills intercepted a pass at the end of the third quarter. Three plays later, Milpitas' Havelock Pomele rumbled up the middle on a draw play, then turned to the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown and a 21-12 lead with 11:52 left.

The South closed the gap to 21-19 with 3:17 remaining when Ashokkumar threw to the end zone and Valley Christian's David Henderson made a diving catch for a 24-yard score. But the South couldn't generate any magic on its final drive.

"The fake punt kind of came back to bite us," Krail said. "We lived and died by those plays tonight and obviously would have tried something different if we had known the outcome of that play. (The North players) were tough up front and did a good job slowing our running game."

Contact Dennis Knight at dknight@mercurynews.com.