NBL All-Stars prevail, 31-28


For the 80 seniors from the North Bay and Sonoma County leagues playing in Saturday night’s Kiwanis All-Star football game, it was a bittersweet evening.

Sam Atoe scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:58 left, as the NBL All-Stars defeated the SCL All-Stars, 31-28. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

Yes, it was a thrill to represent their school and conference in one more game, but that elation was tempered by the realization that this game marked the end of an era in each player’s life.
The game turned out to be a thriller as Sam Atoe’s 11-yard run with 1:58 remaining gave the NBL a 31-28 victory.

The SCL had one last chance, but Nick Sherry’s fourth-down pass from midfield fell incomplete.
Atoe rushed for three touchdowns. Earlier, the Maria Carrillo grad scored on runs of 4 and 31 yards.

The SCL took its only lead of the game, 28-24, on a 30-yard pass from Sherry to Makana Garrigan with 1:55 left in the third.
No one was feeling the emotional swings more than Casa Grande’s DivisionI recruits Garrigan and Sherry.
While Garrigan is looking forward to playing for Nevada-Reno in the fall and Sherry is heading to UNLV, both said they were melancholy as the realization that the Kiwanis game meant finality to their high school years.

“Practicing for the All-Star (game), I was thinking about that a lot,” Sherry said. “I’ve been playing with and against a lot of these guys from Petaluma since we were in the third grade,” he said. “We went through Pop Warner and then the school programs.
“The guys on the team from Casa (Garrigan, Jonathon Cole, Mike Ielmorini and Anthony Poole), we have such a bond. For years, we’d see each other during school and then condition together during the summer.

“It’s sad thinking this was our last game together.”

As Garrigan points out, the players will always carry memories.
“No matter where I go, I’ll remember these guys,” he said. “Heck, Sherry and I have been teammates since the third grade. Even though we’re going to different schools, we’ll always have that bond. I feel the same about all my Casa teammates.”
Garrigan played strong safety and wide receiver for the Gauchos and his gaudy stats earned him the scholarship to Nevada-Reno. The 185-pounder had 181 solo tackles his final two years at Casa and caught 17 touchdown passes while intercepting 15.

Sherry, a 6-foot-5, 220 pounder, caught the eye of UNLV coaches on the strength of 49 TD passes and 353 completions his last two high school seasons.

The Casa class of 2011 didn’t lose a home game their junior or senior seasons, going 12-0. It was one of those 12 Garrigan and Sherry agree stood above the rest — the Egg Bowl victory over cross-town rival Petaluma this past Oct. 15.

“We lost to them our sophomore and junior years,” Garrigan said. “There was no way we were going to let them come to our home and beat us when we were seniors.”

The Gauchos won, 22-7, and you can bet the seniors that were on the winning side will remember the score the rest of their lives.

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