High school football is back in June. Yes, you read that right.
On June 24, the 50th Anniversary East-West All-Star Football Game will be played at Golden West High School’s Groppetti Community Stadium.
The game pits athletes from Tulare, Kings and parts of Kern county to compete against one another for a final time, before hanging up their cleats.
The head coach for the East team is Strathmore High School’s Jeromy Blackwell. For the West, Tulare Western High School’s Ryan Rocha will roam the sideline.
The All-Star game is managed by the Lemoore Kiwanis and Visalia Optimists clubs. According to Tom Hayslett of the Visalia Optimists, the coaches were selected by the records they posted last seasons with their high school teams.
“Our criteria is that we try to select the coach with the best record at the end of the season,” Hayslett said. “We start from there and hope we can secure them.”
Blackwell led the Spartans to a 14-1 overall record, winning the East Sequoia League, a Central Section Division VI championship and the CIF Regional Championship South Division 6-A Bowl Game. Strathmore ultimately fell short in the CIF State Division 6-A Championship game, losing on a last minute touchdown to St Patrick-St Vincent High School.
Strathmore has made numerous section title appearances under Blackwell, and they look to be poised for another run in 2017,with senior running back Joseph Garcia.
Garcia ran all over opposing defenses en route to a single-season school record 2,345 yards while also scoring 46 total touchdowns during the 2016 season.
Rocha led the Mustangs to a 9-4 record and the Central Section Division III Championship game. Tulare Western had a chance to win the East Yosemite League, but fell to rival Tulare Union.
Western will be losing their captain and quarterback in Andre Aguilar, but the Mustangs feature plenty of youth on both sides of the ball for Rocha’s system.
Hayslett is looking forward to seeing both squads perform on the field and expects fans to see a competitive football game.
“You never know, it’s very balanced,” Hayslett said. “There is plenty of talent on both sides, so it’s very entertaining. You will see a lot of heart by the players as this is there some of their last performances.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm with gates opening at 6pm at Community Stadium. During halftime, Breaking Barriers will perform for fans in attendance.