The North proved to have too much talent for the South as they won the 29th Annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football Game June 27 at Veteran's Stadium in Merced, 35-13.
Before a crowd of 2,000, Central Valley's Ja'Quan Gardner scored three times in the game. The first on an eight-yard run, the second on a 54-yard pass reception and run, and the third on a fourth-quarter 16-yard run. The talented Gardner rushed for 2,467 yards and 27 touchdowns during the regular season.
Yosemite High was represented in the game by linebacker Bobby Magee and lineman Anthony Archer, while running back/receiver Mitch Richard chart represented Minarets. The South was coached by former YHS player and coach Bonner Cunnings of Madera High.
The game was all North under the spread offense of Merced Coach Rob Scheidt. His defense helped the offense with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions./team also
Merced's Kris Turner-Jackson became the North workhorse out of the backfield later in the half. The Bears running back touched the ball eight times on an 82-yard scoring drive, including a one-yard TD plunge that gave the North a 21-0 lead.
Richard's touchdown came with just 53 seconds left in the second quarter to give the North a 28-0 lead heading into halftime.
Early in the fourth quarter, the South fought back to cut the lead to 28-13 as Firebaugh quarterback Josh Allen scored on touchdown runs of five and nine yards.
The game ended with just over five minutes left in the game after the second fight of the night broke out between the two teams.
According to a Shawn Jansen story in the Merced Sun-Star, after order was restored, there was a special moment as Hilmar's Joseph Bello was allowed to score a 50-yard touchdown in his wheelchair as players from the South pushed him.
Bello was injured in February in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He fractured two vertebrae and was left without feeling from the chest down. Both teams ran to the end zone to celebrate with Bello.
Magee, who will attend Reedley Community College in the fall to study natural resources, said he was honored to be selected for the game.
"It was fun to meet and play with all the players on the South team ... some of the top football players in the valley."
The South leads the series 16-13.