Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Brett Cazares, left, and Madera’s Justin Landero represents the South team during the North/South All-Star Rotary football game in Merced on Saturday.
MERCED — The South All-Stars couldn’t overcome untimely turnovers and and costly penalties in a 33-19 loss to the North in the 32nd annual North/South All-Star Rotary All-Star Football game at Golden Valley-Merced’s Memorial Stadium.
The South team, made up of All-Stars from the Central Section, turned the ball over twice, including one on the first play from scrimmage, which led to a North touchdown Saturday night.
South was also flagged for 13 penalties for 119 yards, including four 15-yard penalties.
Despite the outcome, Liberty’s Brett Cazares and Madera’s Justin Landero felt their South team was the more disciplined team and should have won the game.
“The last game we won and this week, our team this time was more disciplined,” Cazares said. “We had more plays and were able to run them.”
“I tried to go out with a bang,” Landero said. “It’s going to be sad leaving my high school career. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my college career.”
Cazares recorded a few tackles in the game, a week after a quarterback sack in the City/County All-Star football game.
“I love football,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to be really tough to give it up. I might see the field again, but we’ll see. Maybe next year, I’ll play.”
Landero was impressed with his teammates and enjoyed his career at Madera, which led to a Senior Athlete of the Year award.
“We were enemies on the field at Madera High,” Landero said. “Now, we’re like family. There are some great guys out here. They are well disciplined. It’s all the good players. It’s not just one player, it’s all of them. Everybody is good and legit. I have no regrets on my high school career. I played my hardest even though the season didn’t turn out as I wanted.”
The South team outgained the North 187-169, but it was the South defense that held tough. The South allowed just 39 yards rushing and recorded five quarterback sacks.
On the first play from scrimmage, the center snap went by quarterback Junior Cardenas. North’s David Perales (Merced) picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Twice, South had drives go into North territory, but penalties moved South out of scoring range and turned the ball over on downs.
After a South quarterback sack, North was forced to punt from its 13-yard line. Cardenas hit Blake Wells (Buchanan) for a first down and then found Christian Graney (Sanger) down the sideline for a 33-yard gain to cut the North lead to 7-6.
South took advantage of a North personal foul penalty to start a scoring drive. Cardenas hit Wells for a first down and also received a roughing the passer penalty. Two plays later, Demarcus Wilson (San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno) scored from five yards out for the touchdown and a 12-7 lead.
North was helped by a South personal foul penalty and scored on a 33-yard pass play for a 14-12 lead before halftime.
After a South interception, North scored on a five-play drive, capping with a 27-yard touchdown pass for a 20-12 lead.
North, after a trade in third quarter possessions, went on a scoring drive, helped by a 16-yard South punt. North converted on a fourth down and faced a 32-yard field goal attempt, but South went offsides. On the ensuing play, North faked the field goal and scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass for a 26-12 lead.
South then went on a 13-play scoring drive to cut the lead in half. Wilson carried twice for 15-yards and a first down. Cardenas was sacked on third down, but North was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. South quarterback Joshua Woods (Sunnyside) hit Wells on a quick slant for an 18-yard gain.
Chowchilla’s Ronnie Reyes bounced for 10-yards to the one and Woods scored on a sneak for the touchdown and a 26-19 South lead.
An illegal touching penalty and a sack led to a fourth-and-24. Woods’ pass to Wells was short of the first down.
On the next play, North connected on a 54-yard catch-and-run to put the game away for a 33-19 victory.