City/County football: Edison High's Deondre 'Dae Dae' Howard hopes for big night

The Fresno BeeJune 20, 2013 

Edison's Deondre Howard will look up to wrap up a stellar athletic career Friday night in the City/County All-Star Football Game at Lamonica Stadium.

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He's everyone's favorite teammate, a 5-foot-7, 140-pound bundle of captivating talent and character from Edison High.

He'll be listed as Deondre Howard on the City/County All-Star Football Game program Friday night at Lamonica Stadium, but that's semantics.

Simply, he's "Dae Dae."

Not Deondre.

Not Howard.

Not Deondre Howard.

He's "Dae Dae."

And that's flattering, of course, as the local answer to Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo — only Dae Dae has had his day in football and baseball as a four-year varsity player in both.

"The most remarkable thing about Dae Dae is his incredible desire to be successful, no matter what the odds are," Edison 20-year baseball coach Cliff Rold says. "In all my years of coaching young men, I don't know if I've had any with a greater warrior spirit in their heart. I'm telling you, he's a rare one."

Howard will play receiver, return kicks and probably fill in some at cornerback, too, for the City in the 59th edition of the game. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

"He's just an amazing athlete for all the things he can do at his size," says City coach Rich Hammond of Clovis. "But, at the same time, he's a bigger-than-life personality. He's a ball full of positivity; he's always picking up guys."

And himself.

Think not?

Question: "Dae Dae, what's your goal for the City/County game?"

Answer: "Score five touchdowns."

Question: "Say, what?"

Answer: "There will be 15-minute quarters; that should give me enough time."

This isn't a facade.

This is from an athlete who plans on playing football AND baseball at Fresno City College, an unusual double; a possibly unprecedented double for an athlete of his size.

In Howard's vocabulary, that's a dreadful four-letter word: S-I-Z-E.

"It's about heart, not size," he says, suddenly beginning to simmer. "It's about having the greatest heart to play at the highest level. It doesn't matter about size; it's about production on the field."

"It bothers me when they always look at size in the pros. Some big guys don't have heart; anybody who has heart should make it, no matter what."

He made All-County/Metro Athletic Conference in football and baseball at Edison.

It was vintage Howard in a 5-minute sequence of a 41-15 playoff win over Clovis West last fall when he returned a punt 19 yards to set up one touchdown, outjumped a Golden Eagles receiver 6 inches taller for an interception and then skied yet again for a 39-yard scoring reception.

Yet he reaches far back for what he considers his football career highlight — starting as a freshman cornerback in the Tigers' 23-7 win at Frontier for the D-II title in 2009.

And he cites as his baseball highlight pitching the final two outs of a 6-2 conquest of Mt. Whitney for the D-II championship as a junior in 2012.

His four-year baseball career counted 26 wins and 324 strikeouts in 3372/3 innings.

"A lot of guys he grew up with made different choices — bad ones," Rold says. "Dae Dae made all the right choices. A lot of people went to bat for him, and he didn't let those people down.

"He's special."

Defending QB McGee the key for County

Offensive improvisation is common for an all-star football game such as this that had the teams practice only seven times. Hence, the County challenge of dealing with the running ability of City Arizona-bound quarterback Khari McGee of Edison.

"When he pulls it down," Hammond says, "there's nobody like him."

The City offense is stacked, also featuring running backs Errian Wingfield (Sunnyside) and Billy East (Buchanan), and wide receiver Marcus Rose (Clovis North).

They'll be targeted by County linebacker Tramell Johnson (Central), a Bee All-Star and the Tri-River Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The County is also armed with a quarterback with exceptional wheels in Bee All-Star DeVaughn Gaines (Chowchilla), the North Sequoia League MVP.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6366, aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

 

Stars are out

CITY/COUNTY FOOTBALL GAME

Friday: 7:30 p.m. at Lamonica Stadium

Radio: KGPT (AM 790)

Tickets: $10, all are general admission, free for children 6 and younger

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