FRESNO - In a yearly event that showcases the Valley's prestigious prep talent, the City/County All-Star football game would be dominated by defense for the second-straight year.
The City team defeated the County squad 15-13 in the 65th annual game at Deran Koligian Stadium at Central High School on Friday. The City broke a two-game losing streak to the County, who was led by Kingsburg head coach David Wilson in this year’s game.
“Coaching the all-star team is like renting a Corvette,” Wilson said about his preparation for the game. “You get this unbelievable sports car that you get to mess with for like a week and when it’s all set and done you just give it back. So that’s kind of how it feels. It was a fun ride.”
The City clinched it’s victory after former Bullard linebacker Jacob Levato blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt by recent Central High grad Trent Tompkins with 1:08 left.
“If I had to do it 10 more times, I’ll kick that field goal,” Wilson said. “Trent made every one of those field goals during the week. He’s a big time player in a big stage like this and I had no problem giving him that [opportunity]. I think if we did it 10 times, he’ll probably miss it once and unfortunately that one time was today.”
Tompkins - a UC Davis quarterback signee - attempted the potential game-winning field goal after the County was held to fourth down inside the 5-yard line. The County gained a redzone opportunity after the City was penalized on a defensive pass interference call, followed by a one-handed catch from former Central wideout Milton Clements V, who was in double coverage on the play. Clements picked up yards after the catch and was stopped inside the 10.
Recent Kingsburg High grad Bo Jackson had two rushing attempts after the explosive play, but was only able to get the ball inside the 5. Scoring the game-winning touchdown was on Jackson’s mind during the game’s final minutes.
“I wanted to so bad,” Jackson said. “It is what it is, I'm happy for all these guys. It was a really fun week and I’m thankful for every moment of it.”
It was Jackson’s final time on the gridiron and he was one of five Vikings selected to play in the all-star game. Jackson said he’s attending The Master’s University in Santa Clarita and will focus on his academics. He’ll major in international business.
The other Kingsburg High representatives were Jadon Spomer, Garrett Costi, Andrew Hernandez, and Zachary Wilson, who didn’t play due to an undisclosed injury.
Spomer, who lined up as a defensive end, recorded a sack before halftime, taking down City quarterback Angel Maldonaldo (Roosevelt).
“There’s nothing that feels better than getting a sack, man,” Spomer said. “There’s so much adrenaline and all the guys start yelling, it’s awesome.”
Costi mainly played his snaps on the County offensive line, protecting Tompkins and former Madera quarterback Colt Nelson as a left tackle.
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“It’s crazy because they’re just all-stars,” Costi said about playing in the game. “I thought I came into this thinking I was going to be the worst of the bunch, but it ended up being a great time.”
Both Spomer and Costi said they will not played football at the next level. Spomer will attend Fresno State and will major in agricultural systems. Costi said he thought about playing football for Fresno City College, but decided to attend Boyce College, a private christian institution in Louisville, Kentucky.
As for Hernandez, he lined up as a defensive tackle throughout the game.
Former Selma Bear Pat Angelo was the orange and black’s only representative at the game. Angelo played safety and special teams for the County until he left the game with a knee injury in the third quarter.
“There was a lot of competition,” Angelo said. “I just had to keep my mind right.”
Angelo, who played running back at Selma High, will get a chance to step on the field again, playing at the next level for NAIA institution Clarke College, which is in Iowa. Angelo said he’s going to attempt to switch positions as a slot receiver for the Clarke College Pride.
Near the end of the third quarter, both teams were in a 7-7 tie, the City gained a two-point advantage after an erratic snap on a County punt went out of the endzone for a safety.
The City went up 15-7 after Maldonado scored on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line for the team’s final points. The City’s scoring drive was set up by an interception from former Clovis West linebacker Thomas Curran, who picked off Tompkins from inside the 5-yard line.
Tompkins led the County to the endzone on the ensuing possession with a 11-yard touchdown pass to former Minarets receiver Preston Conti, cutting the City’s lead 15-13. The County couldn’t convert on it’s two-point conversion attempt, but the team forced the City to punt for one final drive, which was the possession that ended in a blocked field goal.
Clements scored the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter on an 82-yard screen pass from Nelson. With seconds left until halftime, the City tied the score 7-7 on a 8-yard touchdown pass from Maldonado to Fresno State signee Josh Kelly, who is a former San Joaquin Memorial receiver.
Maldonado was named the City’s Most Valuable Player while Clements earned the same award for the County.
Last year, County won 10-5 and were victorious 41-22 in 2017. The previous time the City won was a 26-0 shutout in 2016, which was it’s fourth-straight win for them at the time. The yearly game is considered the longest running all-star event in the state.