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Who are the unsung players in Optimist Football Classic?

By Joe Davidson, Sac Bee, 01/18/19, 9:15PM PST


These senior showcase games are not always for players who capped their seasons with a state championship.

The 61st Optimist All-Star Football Classic on Saturday at Sacramento State - 1 p.m. kickoff - is also a haven for the unsung, overlooked and still developing. 

The South roster includes anchor players for Folsom High School’s back-to-back CIF State Division 1-AA title teams in linemen David Ruiz, Tyler Hardeman, Joe Wagner, Caleb Freeland and Kaden Richardson, and defensive back Caleb Nelson, linebacker Dylan Jorge and do-all talent Parker Clayton.

The South team also features Capital Christian school-record rushing holder D’Marcus Ross and Bee All-Metro teammates Will Buck and Trey Jones. Ross will share handoffs with fellow Bee All-Metro running back Tyrell Smith of Sheldon.

And the South roster also includes stellar seniors who competed under the radar, including Monterey Trail tight end/defensive end Germaine Spearman, Sacramento all-purpose leader Javon Felton and the Lincoln quarterback-receiver duo of Tommy Turner and Harry Rounds. 

Spearman was a key cog to Monterey Trail’s 12-1 season that ended in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship loss to Folsom at Sac State. 

Felton was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Dragons who played hurt and inspired for a playoff team, and he also made plays on defense and special teams. Turner and Rounds became the most prolific quarterback and receiver in Lincoln history. Turner passed for 2,347 yards and 22 touchdowns, hitting Rounds 78 times for 1,315 yards and 18 scores for a playoff team.

The North includes stars who led Del Oro to a CIF State title game in defensive back Dawson Hurst, lineman Wyant Berry and kicker Ryan Whalley. Del Campo school-rushing record holder Levi Markey is also on board, as are Rocklin twins Cole and Cade Wyant, who play linebacker and quarterback.

And there are Jesuit stars Cade Brownholtz (defensive end), Cade Cunningham (all-purpose), Hank Harvego (quarterback) and Connor McIntee (tight end). 

The unsung North players include Rio Americano running back/linebacker Jack Cartwright, whose team went 2-8 but not for any lack of Jack effort.

“They can all play,” North coach John Volek said.

Said South coach Max Miller, “Everyone’s working hard in practice. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of good players on both sides.”

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