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Produced by Almaden Valley Rotary Club

Liddle, Ward bring big stats into all-star game

43rd Wedemeyer game is June 24
BY DICK SPARRER

Will Liddle and Ralph Ward put up some very impressive numbers as high school football players. The two offensive standouts combined for over 10,000 yards and more than 100 touchdowns in their matching three-year varsity careers.

And they're not finished yet.

Liddle, who threw for 7,945 yards in three seasons as the Saratoga quarterback, and Ward, who ran for 3,008 yards in a three-year career as a running back at Homestead, will take the field one more time as high school football players when they lead the North contingent into the 43rd annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

High school football's cream of the crop from the 2016 fall season will play for the North and South teams when they collide in the game better known as the Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Game on June 24, 6 pm., at the home of the San Francisco 49ers: Levi's Stadium.

Liddle and Ward, like the rest of the players selected to compete in the summer classic, are coming off of outstanding seasons in 2016 seasons that closed out the three-year careers for the two Santa Clara Valley Athletic League stars.

Liddle was a sophomore sensation at Saratoga, throwing for 2,113 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2014. He came back to throw for 2,011 yards and 15 TDs as a junior before putting up even bigger numbers as a senior when he completed 292 of 423 passes for 3,821 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Ward was equally as impressive. After what, for him, was a modest 432-yard/9 touchdown season as a sophomore, the Homestead back raced for 1,186 yards and 13 scores as a junior. Ward came back with an even'bigger year last fall, carrying the football 163 times for 1,390 yards (8.5 yards per carry average) and 22 touchdowns for the Mustangs.

Liddle is one of three quarterbacks on the North roster put together by head coach Steve Papin of Independence. Overfelt's Moses Barajas, who threw for 1,628 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for 391 more and another four TDs, and Robert Najar of Lincoln, who threw for 389 yards and seven TDs and ran for 582 and nine scores in just four games for the Lions, will join Liddle as North QBs.

Elias Davidson (722 yards) of Mountain View, Richard Herrera (1,210 yards) of Wilcox and Anthony Talingdan (1,189. yards) of Independence will join Ward in the North backfield and Fremont's Jaylen Wynn (49 receptions, 845 yards, 10 TDs) will be among those in the receiving corps.

Linebackers Jessy Lopez and Andre Becker of Monte Vista, cornerback Dezmond Ghafouri of The King's Academy and defensive end Trent Portman of Kings figure to play key defensive roles for the North and Fremont's Jedidiah Ybarra is a top prospect in the offensive line.

For the South, head coach Kyle Padia of Leigh brings a stable of four quarterbacks to the all-star classic, led by his own signal-caller Jared King, who threw for 1,530 yards and ran for 739 more while delivering a combined 30 touchdowns for the Longhorns.

Justin Collins (855 yards passing, 621 rushing) of Del Mar, Tyler McGovern (1,462 passing, 352 rushing) of Oak Grove and Phillip Tran (2,104 passing, 420 rushing) of Archbishop Mitty join King behind the center, and Prospect wide receivers Angel Gutierrez (43 catches, 584 yards) and Alaric Hill (35 catches, 584 yards) will be among the top targets for the QBs.

Leading the ground attack for the South will be running backs Nolan Berry (1,862 yards) of Westmont, Kyree Harbin (745. yards) of Santa Teresa and Jeff Wallis (1,530 yards) of Lynbrook.

Among the defensive leaders for the South will be linebackers D.J. Monroe of Westmont, Dylan Rouzigues of Lynbrook, Zach Draxton of Leigh and Danny Reidenbach of Harker; linemen Brandon Dick of Pioneer, Thomas Gregg of Los Gatos and Gavin Rodinsky of Branham; end Armaan Soltani of Cupertino; and backs Peter Finocchio of Leigh, Conner Howery of Del Mar, Leland Ledger of Leigh and Caden McCloughan of Los Gatos.

William Garrahan of Westmont, Monte Olvera of Leigh, Lucas Peters of Branham and Ryan Puccio of Willow Glen will see action in the offensive line.

Former stars
The local players join an impressive cast of former all-stars, many of whom went on to greatness following their participation in the summer all-star game.

Former Los Gatos High School star Kiko Alonso is a past all-star still active in the National Football League.

Alonso, a linebacker, originally signed with Buffalo and starred for Bills as a rookie in 2013. He was injured in 2014 and again in 2015 while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is now the middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.

Gunderson great James Jones, who starred for eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers and played a year with the Oakland Raiders, remains a free agent after his release from the San Diego Chargers before the 2016 campaign.

Jared Allen, another Los Gatos graduate, retired following the 2015 season after a sensational NFL career. The All-Pro defensive end played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers during his career.

Alonzo and Allen each played for the North team in the summer all-star classic and Jones played for the South.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia (Gilroy/San Jose State University) is a former all-star who went onto play for six NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, and Doug Cosbie (Wilcox/ San Diego Chargers), John Faylor (Mitty/ 49ers), Erik Howard (Bellarmine/Giants), Randy Kirk (Bellarmine/49ers) and Trent Edwards (Los Gatos/Buffalo Bills) used the all-star classic as springboard to the rofessional ranks. Also included on that list are the late Pat Tillman (Leland/Arizona Cardinals), Carl Monroe (Overfelt/ 49ers) and John Tuggle (Independence/ New York Giants).

Bill Haselman (Saratoga) and the late Ken Caminiti (Leigh) each played in the summer game, then went on to play baseball in the major leagues, and Millard Hampton (Silver Creek) was an all-star who went on to win an Olympic gold medal.

Football banquet
The players and coaches selected for the 2017 game were invited to a banquet in their honor held on April 19 at the Elks Lodge in San Jose. The keynote speaker was San Francisco 49ers punter Bradley Pinion, and also in attendance was Lucy Wedemeyer, whose late husband, Charlie, the game is nemed for.

The master of ceremonies was Bob Seymour of the Almaden Valley Rotary Club, the group that has sponsored the game since 1974. With the exception of 1976, the high school all-star game had been held every summer since, and Jim Guido, the game chairman and a Rotarian himself, has been involved in every one of them.

South team
Kyle Padia, the head coach at Leigh High School, will lead the South team into the all-star game. His assistant coaches are Dan Lefeber, Jake Wirt, Jim Carlton and Ben Irick of Leigh, former Leigh head coach Ken Padia, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia, Ken Orvick of Los Gatos, Jason Bumbaca of Del Mar and Vito Cangemi of Milpitas.

North team
Independence High School head coach Steve Papin will head up the North squad for the summer game. His assistant coaches, will be Chris Wilson, Jerome Lee, Antwoine Brown, DarVale Jackson, Tim Miller, Anthony Pinon and Keith Allen of Independence and Michael Avalos of James Lick.