One last hurrah for high school football all-stars

Jalon Luque ran for 2,071 yards and 24 touchdowns for Rancho Cotate last season. (Photo by John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Jalon Luque ran for 2,071 yards and
24 touchdowns for Rancho Cotate last season. (Photo by John Burgess / The Press Democrat)


Fifteen first team All-Empire football players, including offensive player of the year Jalon Luque, will wrap up their high school careers this Saturday in the 40th Santa Rosa Kiwanis Club All-Star game.

Kick-off is 8 p.m. at Montgomery High.

Luque will be among a dozen recently-graduated All-Empire players competing for the North Bay League while the Sonoma County League has three representatives.

Both squads are in their second week of practice with the NBL preparing daily at Rancho Cotate while the SCL is conditioning at Piner.

Prospectors head coach John Antonio is in charge of the SCL while Gehrig Hotaling, an assistant at Rancho, is supervising the NBL.

In Luque, the NBL will have the most prolific running back to come out of perennial powerhouse Rancho Cotate. Last year, he rushed for 2,071 yards in 14 games. He averaged 11 yards per carry and scored 24 touchdowns.

Besides Luque, Rancho will be represented by five other first team All-Empire players: Nick Reynolds, A.J. Davison, Fono Misi, Carlos Soto and Rodrigo Perez.

Other first team All-Empire players on the NBL squad are: Kenny Carter (Cardinal Newman), Nolan Nagle (CN), Chris Codding (CN), Jahray Hayes (Santa Rosa), Elijah Qualls (Casa Grande) and Jake Ielmorini (CG).

The three first team All-Empire selections playing for the SCL are: Natu Hezchias (Piner), Aaron Maher (Analy) and Jonny Amandoli (Sonoma Valley).

The SCL has 38 players on its roster, two fewer than the NBL.


Philip (Scooby) Wright, the All-Empire defensive player of the year, is not on the roster for Saturday’s game.

This is the first All-Star game since realignment. The NBL picked up players from Casa Grande and Windsor while the SCL added El Molino and Elsie Allen.

The high school with the most players suiting up is Rancho Cotate. Fourteen ex-Cougars will play. Analy and Sonoma Valley are next with nine representatives apiece.

Offensive lineman Juan Avalos, who played for Tomales, is on the NBL roster. St. Vincent’s Michael Carroll and Mitch Sheppard will compete for the SCL. Both teams compete in North Central League II.

Last year, the NBL defeated the SCL, 31-28, with Sam Atoe taking home the most valuable player award. The former Maria Carrillo running back rushed for 165 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Among the rule changes for Saturday’s game are no blitzing by the defenses and no rushing on kicks.

Begun as a contest between Marin and Sonoma County high schools, the current format was adopted in 1992. Since becoming an NBL-SCL matchup, the SCL leads the series, 11-10.

Advance tickets can be purchased at T&B Sports (2049 W. Steele Lane). Admission for adults is $12 with youths under 10 free.

The Kiwanis Club will distribute proceeds from the game to community projects.

In recent years, the game had been held at Santa Rosa High. However, that field underwent resurfacing earlier this summer and was unavailable.


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