Sierra High linebacker Trevon McCray (far right) will be pivotal in the Lions North All-Star defense. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)
Welcome to this week’s blog coverage of the 42nd annual District 4A-1 Lions All-Star Football Game, to be played at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider stadium. I’ll be covering the North squad all week, which is staying at Pacific and practicing at Stagg High, and includes players from Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Lathrop, Sutter Creek, San Andreas and Sonora.
The South squad includes players from Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Hughson, Atwater, Los Banos, Patterson, Waterford and Mariposa. For coverage of the South team, follow our friend James Burns of The Modesto Bee on Twitter @jburns1980.
For my first blog coverage (Record story links are included below) I’ll dive into the North’s defense. Now, coach John Ward — the Chavez High leader of five seasons — is not one to divulge any extra information the week of a game. So, asking him how he’s assembling his offense and defense will only yield so much.
What I’ve done, is taken the roster (also below) and assembled what I’d do with a starting D.
NOTE: Some of these players in my hypothetical lineup I comment on more than others. This is either because I saw them play more and am more familiar with their abilities, or I just have something more specific to say. It is not my subtle way of ranking them, I promise you.
MY NORTH DEFENSE
Labron (LJ) Alofaituli (Sierra)
Alofaituli, though listed as a linebacker, is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and is needed on the line. This team has more linebackers than defensive linemen.
Steven Martinez (Manteca)
Martinez is a solid pick to be an inside defensive tackle in a 3-4 scheme (which is what I’d run with this roster, three linemen, four linebackers), at 5-11, 290 pounds.
Dustin Littlefield (Amador)
Littlefield, listed at 6-3, 215 on MaxPreps and 6-2, 225 on the North roster, is built like a 30-year-old. He’s battling a hip injury, so defensive end isn’t his natural position, but he’s got the natural build to make up for it.
Trevon McCray (Sierra)
McCray, the Valley Oak League’s Defensive MVP, is an absolute masher inside. He’s the type of tackler to de-cleat even the sturdiest of runners.
Brandon Russell (Tracy)
Russell, a two-time reigning All-Area first-team linebacker, is a solid hybrid linebacker that can protect runs to the outside and screens, and drop into coverage when he needs to. Play him on the outside with guys like McCray in the middle.
Ja’Quan Williams (Edison)
Williams provides strength at 6-foot, 215, and was one of several underrated seniors on a Vikings team that struggled. In fact, Edison coach Andre Horace often called him the heart and soul of his team.
Bradley Kazmierczak (Tokay)
Kazmierczak, at 5-9, 180, was a consistent tackler for the Tigers and a good choice to be another outside ‘backer with Tracy’s Russell.
ALSO: At inside linebacker, Lathrop’s Hawaii Leaf A Teao is a good choice. I haven’t seen Sonora’s Serge (Billy) Kiriluk but at 5-10, 220, and on a good team, he’s in Stockton for a reason.
Jake Alvarado (Tracy)
Alvarado is a (very) late addition to this final 27-man roster, which used to be 30, but could be one of the smartest choices made. He led Div. I with nine interceptions, and was a monster on defense, offense and special teams for section runner-up Tracy.
He’s a good choice at either safety spot.
Kiante Bell (Edison)
Bell, like Williams, incredibly underrated, is headed to play NCAA Division II football at Chadron State in Nebraska, along with Chavez grad Priest Jennings. And Bell should see heavy time at cornerback.
Javonte Norman (St. Mary’s)
Norman was one of the best cover corners in the area, if not the section, and has the foot speed to run a 21.54-second time in the 200-meter dash this spring. This secondary is beastly with guys like him.
Also at cornerback: Chavez’s Sergio Fernandez, a leader who knows Ward’s system well, could easily be a starting cornerback, too.
Craig Perkins (Bear Creek)
Perkins was The Record’s first-team All-Area punter, but can also pitch in as a safety, as a quarterback, as a running back and more. Look for him to do a variety of things on this team, even though most players will have one responsibility.
2015 LIONS NORTH ROSTER
Jake Alvarado, Tracy, DB
Labron (LJ) Alofaituli, Sierra, LB
Kiante Bell, Edison, DB
Darrell Clemons, Manteca, OL
Rashaad Cooper, Kimball, RB
Tyler Cornwell, Stagg, OL
Julius Davila, Chavez, QB
Demetrius Ferguson, St. Mary’s, WR
Sergio Fernandez, Chavez, DB
Connor Hamilton, Calaveras, RB
Hunter Johnson, Sierra, WR
Nate Jones, Tracy, RB
Bradley Kazmierczak, Tokay, LB
Serge (Billy) Kiriluk, Sonora, LB
Hawaii Leaf A Teao, Lathrop, LB
Dustin Littlefield, Amador, DL
Steven Martinez, Manteca, OL/DL
Keilen Mocencio, Lincoln, C
Javonte Norman, St. Mary’s, DB
Craig Perkins, Bear Creek, DB/P
Brandon Russell, Tracy, LB
Zerek Saldivar, Sonora, OL
Tristen Taylor, Stagg, OL
Jacob Wall, Tokay, OL
Kahale Warring, Sonora, WR
Ja’Quan Williams, Edison, LB
LIONS COVERAGE VIA RECORDNET.COM
Tracy legend Schneider remembers Lions game origins
North coach Ward enjoying football, life journey
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