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Annual Lions All-Star Football Game canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

North 11-man football players practice during Lions All-Star Football week at Shasta College in June 2019. (FILE -- Photo by Aaron Williams/Shasta County Sports)

Senior prep football players in the North State have officially played their final games before heading off to college.

The 43rd edition of the Lions 4-C1 All-Star Football Game expected to be played this summer at Shasta College was canceled Tuesday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic said Ray Odom, game director and member of the Lions International Club out of Hamilton City.

The decision prevents 89 players from playing one more time locally in the North State’s “Summer Classic.”

“We tried to do what we could to keep it going but we had to cancel,” Odom said.

The annual game features recently graduated senior high school football players located in the CIF Northern Section area and Yuba County. Lions International 4-C1 operates the game as a fundraiser for Children’s Diabetic Camp at Camp McCumber. Coaches are selected in spring and fill out their respective North and South 11-man and 8-man team rosters with players who were nominated by their individual high school coaches.

The Lions decided in April to push the game back from June 20 to July 18 with the uncertainty of the statewide shelter-in-place and social distancing orders set by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Odom said.

But the Lions ran into problems. The south camp at Chico State closed for the summer because of the pandemic and the Lions attempted to move everything to the north camp at Shasta College, Odom said. With the statewide orders still in place, the Lions had to cancel because they could not find a solution that would work.

“Shasta College is remodeling (its dorms) and they set aside 25 rooms for the north teams and they would have to double that to 50,” Odom said. “If social distancing is still in effect, which it probably will be, we would have to go to one player per room and that means we’d need 100 rooms and double our costs.

“That was our clincher as far as canceling.”

There were other guidelines that had to fall in place for the game to be played, one of them needing California to be in Phase 4 of the California Reopening Plan, which allows concerts, conventions and sports with a live crowd to reopen.

But the work that goes into operating the game was too much to take on with the uncertainty.

“I don’t think we’ll be in Phase 4 by July,” Odom said. “How do we guarantee social distancing by playing football?”

U-Prep head coach Darren Trueblood was scheduled to guide the North 11-man squad for the third time in 11 years, opposing Yuba City’s Aaron Gingery, who was to lead the South team. The two squared off 11 times from 2004-2013 at their former schools when Trueblood was at the helm at Enterprise and Gingery at Shasta. They had not faced each other since 2013 when Enterprise beat Shasta 50-13 in River Bowl, the annual crosstown rivalry game.

Trueblood got the opportunity to coach his son Zack, now on the U-Prep staff, in 2013 all-star game and was looking forward to doing the same with his son Trevor this summer.

“I feel for all the kids, the 8-man kids, 11-man kids…it’s heartbreaking for them and for the Lions because I know how much they do for our community,” Darren Trueblood said. “This is a big deal for the local football scene. But once again I understand the safety to our community and the kids are paramount and we have to do our part as well.”

For the 8-man all-star game, Redding Christian coach Gerald Piper was the North coach and Chester’s TJ Reagan was expected to lead the South.

The Lions are still giving the personalized game jerseys to each of the players for being selected and plan on doing something at next year’s game to honor the 2020 all-stars, Odom said.

For a lot of players, the bonds created during Lions all-star week stands out in their memories more than the game does, Darren Trueblood said. Former rivals get to see what it’s like to be teammates and small school players get to test their mettle against the large schools and compete to earn respect.

Except for this year.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to do the game a couple of times now and the friendships developed in that game have lasted way beyond that week and some are lifelong relationships,” Darren Trueblood said. “It’s sad this group won’t get to experience that.”

Here’s the final rosters of the 2020 Lions All-Stars with Shasta County players with a * next to their name.

North 11-man

Coach: Darren Trueblood U-Prep
Name Position School
Marquice Crowell* WR/CB Anderson
Cody Fuentes* OL/DL Central Valley
Devin Toth QB/LB Corning
Jacob Anderson* OL/DL Enterprise
Calvin Thackeray FB/LB Etna
Brandon Merryman* QB/DB Foothill
Tyler Carey* WR/DB Foothill
Cody Sisco* OL/DL Foothill
Aaron Ogburn WR/FS Lassen
Elijah Morales OL/DL Lassen
Hunter Landingham RB/LB Los Molinos
Scott Lewis OL/DL Modoc
Lane Kindley OL/DL Mt Shasta
Kayden Crisci RB/LB Mt Shasta
Gustavo Carillo RB/SS Orland
Chase Nielsen OL/DL Portola
Eli Wehbey QB/DB Red Bluff
Jason Kealiinohomoku* OL/DL Shasta
Alex Beltran* WR/S Shasta
Ethan Pike TB/WR/S Trinity
Cole Abel* RB/LB U-Prep
Trevor Trueblood* QB/LB U-Prep
Trayton Laustalot* WR/S U-Prep
Riley Seay* RB/DB U-Prep
Cade Lambert* RB/LB West Valley
Jacob Johnston* LB West Valley
Alex Guzman FB/LB Weed
Tyler Rightmeier OL/DL Yreka

South 11-man

Coach: Aaron Gingery Yuba City
Name Position School
Jose Ramos DT Biggs
Marvelous Owens WR/CB Chico
Abe Del Real WR/DB Chico
Xavier Lopez DE Colusa
Christ Seegert WR/RB/S Durham
Carter Janosz OT East Nic
Selso McTygue TE/LB Gridley
Miguel Hernandez RB/CB Hamilton City
Alec Theveos LB Las Plumas
Juan Torres SS Lindhurst
Jonathan Widener OG Live Oak
Alejandro Lara OT Marysville
Isaiah Cardenez RB/WR/DB Maxwell
Trent DaSilva WR Oroville
Jose Velasquez DL Paradise
Aiden Charter RB/S Pierce
Austin York RB/TE/DE PV
Junior Rivera RB/LB PV
Josh Anderson LT PV
Ian Harvey QB/WB/S River Valley
Max Gipson TE/DE Sutter
Kevin Brugman OL Sutter
Chris Soderlund OL Wheatland
Aldo Ambriz WR Williams
Manny Lederer WR/RB/DB Willows
Erik Palmquist QB/WR/S Yuba City
Luke Afato TE/LB Yuba City
Nathan Gill OL Yuba City

North 8-man

Coach: Gerald Piper Redding Christian
Name Position School
Yamir Moya RB/LB Big Valley
Vladimir Rodriguez CB Big Valley
Chance Kramer OL/DL Big Valley
Jeremiah Wheeler RB/CB Big Valley
Henry Ascencio RB/DB Tulelake
Jose Martinez WR/S Tulelake
Gus Loza C/NG Tulelake
Martin Carnini TE/LB Hayfork
Joey Eddie G/LB Hayfork
Keelan Hahn DB Happy Camp
David Wolfe RB/DE McCloud
Sam Standifer* OL/DL Redding Christian
Ryne Luaces* OL/DL Redding Christian
Andy Lane* OL/LB Fall River
Brennan Woodward* OL/LB Fall River
Matthew Rodriguez QB/CB Butte Valley

South 8-man

Coach: TJ Reagan Chester
Name Position School
Tony Joseph G/NT Greenville
Harlan Savala FB/DE Greenville
Andrew Putnum DB Greenville
Joey Willis DE Princeton
Rigoberto Davilla G/DT Princeton
Callum Kremer RB/LB Chester
Trenton Lonacre G/LB Chester
Taylor Koski TE/DE Portola
Mario Ruiz RB/LB Portola
Irving Juarez OL/DL Portola
Hayden Hamre WR/CB Los Molinos
Eric Belcher TE/OL/DL Los Molinos
Parker Coley OL/DL Los Molinos
Tyler Job HB/DB Biggs
Mauricio Rosales OL/DL Biggs
Cheyden Jackson RB/S Biggs
Xavier Sanchez OL/DL Biggs


T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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