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South stars hold on to topple North
Los Gatos’ Holton leads effort on night of big plays on NFL stage
By Darren Sabedra
SANTA CLARA — For the second year in a row, the annual Charlie Wedemeyer high school all-star football game went big time — as in the action Saturday unfolded on the Levi’s Stadium turf.
Big certainly was the operative word as the teams traded one big play after another before the South held on for a 23-20 victory over the North. Many of Santa Clara County’s top seniors from the Class of 2016 suited up for the 42nd midsummer game that is named in honor of a former Los Gatos coach who died six years ago aftera long battle with ALS. As it turned out, a Los Gatos player made some of the game’s most memorable plays as Jake Holton intercepted two passes for the South, returning one 89 yards for a touchdown, and recovered an onside kick.
“I have a never ran that far in my life,” Holton said. “It was awesome. To be able to do that, especially here on the big stage, it is something I will never forget.”
The South provided most of the highlight-reel plays, both on offense and defense, in the opening half as it took a 13-3 lead into the locker room. Matt Adamkiewicz’s 12yard pass over the middle to his Christopher teammate, PJ Reichert, put the South in front 7-0 late in the first quarter. Given that Adamkiewicz is a nephew of Los Gatos’ Mark Krail, who coached the South, the touchdown was one for the family scrapbook. “It was great,” Krail said. “He’s a great kid. He had a great high school career, so it was really fun to be able to coach him.”
The South extended the lead to 13-0 in the second quarter when Holton reeled in a pass that deflected off a receiver and raced 89 yards to the end zone.
“Give it up to my teammate,” Holton said. “He tipped that ball to me, landed right in my hands. I was gassed. After 40 yards,I was like, ‘Gosh, 40 more yards.’ But it was awesome, incredibly fun.”
Momentum changed after Holton’s TD as the North moved into South territory over the final four minutes of the second quarter, and Cesar Silva from Milpitas finished the drive off with a 47-yard field goal that split the uprights.
Milpitas’ Michael Pyle intercepted a pass three plays into the second half, setting up a 1-yard run by Piedmont Hills quarterback Marcus Romero that cut the South’s advantage to 13-10.
“I saw the receiver run between the safety and me,” Pyle said. “I saw the quarterback and connected eyes with him. I had to run over and make a play, catch the ball. I felt like my legs were going to fall off when I was running with it.”
Mountain View’s Noah Kjos recovered a fumble on the South’s next possession, and Silva evened the score 13-13 with a 34-yard field goal.
Oak Grove’s Rashaan Fontenette, last season’s Mercury News player of the year, had his number called five consecutive times late in the third quarter, the fifth a 1-yard touchdown run that put the South back in front, 20-13.
“It was beautiful,” Fontenette said. “On an NFL field, I got my touchdown. That’s all I wanted.”
Santa Teresa’s Troy Sanchez kicked a 37-yard field goal to stretch the South’s lead to 23-13 with 4:38 to play.
The North responded with an 80-yard drive that ended when Paul Majchrowicz of The King’s Academy caught a 14-yard pass in the corner of the end zone from Romero. Earlier in that series, the two connected for 24 yards on third down.
“It was a really great experience, being on the 49ers’ field.” Romero said. “I am a 49ers fan. I loved it. I just tried to throw it up in the air, made sure he caught it.”
The North had one last chance, recovering a fumble at its 28 with 52 seconds left. But the South defended four consecutive passes to seal the victory, ending a special night for both teams.
“It’s the ambiance, it’s the challenge of taking a bunch of strangers for 10 days basically and trying to make a team and get them to trust each other and love each other and play hard for each other,” Krail said. “It’s great. They’re all smart football players.”For more on high school sports, see the Varsity Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/highschools. Follow Darren Sabedra on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrenSabedra.