By Kevin Askeland
When South coach Mike Mason found himself staring at a roster shy a couple of players, he didn't have to look far in order to find some capable replacements.
Mason, who coached the Lindhurst Blazers to their first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section football championship in 2006, will guide the South team in the 30th annual Lions All-Star Football Game, which is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start on July 28 at Shasta College in Redding.
Rosters for all-star football games are often in flux throughout the selection process with changes taking place until the final week of practice. So when Luis Vargas of Biggs was unable to attend and Erin Thompson of Willows tore his meniscus in the first practice, Mason, whose team is practicing at Chico State University, called on a pair of Pleasant Valley Vikings to fill the void.
Pleasant Valley quarterback Jordan Rogers, the brother of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rogers, gives the South a deep group of signal callers. Rogers finished second in the Northern Section in passing yardage last year with 1,699 yards. South teammates Fielding Uhland of East Nicolaus and Kevin Ross of Durham also ranked among the best in the section last year in passing yards and touchdowns. Uhland led the section in both categories with 1,831 yards and 21 TDs while Ross threw for 1,325 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"Normally when you try to find a replacement in an all-star game, you want to fill in the position you lost," said Mason. "But it was too hard to pass up Jordan, so we decided to invite him to play."
Rogers' Pleasant Valley teammate, running back Mark Woodbury, received the call when Thompson went down with the knee injury. While Thompson brought impressive numbers to the game, rushing for 2,102 yards and 20 TDs, Woodbury had a solid season of his own last year for the Vikings. He ran for 1,666 yards and 21 scores, finishing ninth in the section in rushing yardage and sixth in touchdowns.
The Viking duo join a roster already loaded with talented skill position players. Each of the three quarterbacks will have his favorite receiver on the field. All-Northern Section receiver Corey Arnold of Durham (28 catches, 597 yards) is on the team along with his All-Northern Section counterpart Blake Page of Pleasant Valley (52, 939). Second-team all-section wideout Teri Guy of East Nicolaus (22, 687) gives the South squad three of the top five leading receivers in the Northern Section from last year.
That group doesn't even include Jeffrey Maehl of Paradise, the two-time Northern Section defensive most valuable player at safety. While expected to see most of his playing time on defense, Maehl caught a section-best 11 touchdown passes last year. Maehl was a late addition to the Lions Game roster. On scholarship at University of Oregon, Maehl was not originally chosen for the game because he wasn't expected to be able to participate. However once Maehl got the okay from Oregon to play, Mason didn't hesitate to add him to the roster. Paradise athletic director Jerry Cleek says that Maehl had wanted to play in the game all along.
"He lives to play sports," said Cleek. "He is always playing some sport. And when he's not playing, he's at the girls' games cheering them on."
The Lions Game caps a spectacular season for Maehl, who was Northern Section MVP in football and basketball and was all-section in baseball. He also played in a basketball and baseball all-star game and was recently selected by Cal-Hi Sports as the Division 2 athlete of the year.
Maehl highlights a South defense that also includes linebacker Simon Lamson of Gridley and defensive back Paul Nevarez of Live Oak. Both are also among the top rushers from last year with Nevarez leading the section with 2,278 yards. Tyree Dickson of Oroville will also likely be a big factor at linebacker while Zach Urrutia of Maxwell has been the South's best defensive lineman in camp thus far.
Mason says the camaraderie of the players has impressed him the most during the first few days of camp.
"I'm really impressed with how the kids have bonded," said Mason. "They've really come together as a team even in this short time together."
Following is the roster for the South team:
WR - Frederick Jones, Lindhurst
WR - Blake Page, Pleasant Valley
WR - Ryan Delozier, Lindhurst
WR - Jeffrey Maehl, Paradise
WR - Corey Arnold, Durham
WR - Teri Guy, East Nicolaus
TE - Jake Abbott, Sutter
TE - Joe Smiley, Yuba City
TE - Andy Buus, Quincy
TE - Adam Harmon, Paradise
OL - Chris Doble, Colusa
OL - Daniel Allen, Gridley
OL - Matt Dermody, Maxwell
OL - Von Smiley, Yuba City
OL - Yoel Ramirez, Las Plumas
OL - Josh Ely, Paradise
OL - Zach Urrutia, Maxwell
OL - Alex Wayman, Williams
OL - Cody Ramirez, Sutter
OL - Johnny Martin, Pierce
QB - Jordan Rogers, Pleasant Valley
QB - Fielding Uhland, East Nicolaus
QB - Kevin Ross, Durham
RB - Mark Woodbury, Pleasant Valley
RB - Simon Lamson, Gridley
RB - Paul Nevarez, Live Oak
RB - Kinjite King, Lindhurst
RB - Raymond Cornelius, Lindhurst
RB - Ryan McDowell, Greenville
RB - Jimmy Dowden, Chester
RB - Alan Catron, Westwood
RB - Tyree Dickson, Oroville
A report from the North camp will appear Tuesday