Clovis News: Sports

City vs. County football game restores tradition

They're serious about generating more interest in the City/County All-Star Football Game.

Consider:

  • The game's committee drove down sentimental lane in selecting the coaches in Hoover High's Pat Plummer (City) and Dos Palos' Mike Sparks (County), who combined for 383 wins in 55 years before each resigned after last season.
  • In one of the boldest moves in the 57-year history of the state's longest-running all-star game, the committee has basically restored tradition by matching 14 Fresno/Clovis schools for the City against 24 from the County.
  • The June 17 game will shift from Central's Koligian Stadium to Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium, the elite high school venue in the Central Valley.
  • "A lot of people in the county are saying, 'We want to take on the big boys from the city. Let's play the way it used to be,' " said Ron Galpin, the County representative and a game committee member.

    The realignment will move Buchanan, Clovis and Clovis East from the County to the City, where they will join Clovis Unified brethren Clovis West and Clovis North -- all members of the heavyweight Tri-River Athletic Conference.

    "There is some concern the TRAC powers will overwhelm the smaller schools' players," Galpin said. "But there's also that County pride that says, 'Hey, we're not just farm boys. We can play the game.' "

    The move also figures to open roster spots for County players who otherwise might not have been selected over representatives from Buchanan, Clovis and Clovis East.

    Moved from the City to the County will be Central, Fowler and Washington.

    The process of forming a roster will increase in difficulty for Sparks and those who follow him in future years. That's because game policy requires each designated school from both sides be represented with at least one player among 48-man rosters. So Sparks must tap into 24 schools, including such tiny programs as Mendota, Orange Cove and Riverdale.

    Plummer, while pleased with the realignment -- "I'm an old traditionalist; I think going back to the roots is fantastic" -- was disheartened Tuesday when informed Clovis West star Kendall Brock won't play.

    "Hate to trim that kid," said Plummer, who already had reduced his pool of nominations to 54.

    In a game that has fought diminishing returns at the gate since City quarterbacks Kevin Sweeney of Bullard and Tim McDonald of Edison helped draw crowds of 21,000 and 13,000 into Bulldog Stadium in the early 1980s, a showdown of All-State Players Brock and Kingsburg's Garrett Steele surely would have boosted ticket sales.

    But Brock, The Bee's Player of the Year, said he has been told by Nevada coaches not to play.

    "Nevada's not a big fan of all-star games so I had to pass," said Brock, who will sign a letter of intent with the Wolf Pack next Wednesday.

    Fresno State coach Pat Hill, conversely, said he encourages recruits to participate in all-star games: "I think it's great to play."

    And that would free Clovis West defensive end Donovan Lewis -- A Bee All-Star and the TRAC Lineman of the Year -- to represent the City if he chooses. He is committed to the Bulldogs.

    Good to go for the County -- for now at least -- is Steele, Cal-Hi Sports State Middle Schools Player of the Year. He is likely to sign with Sacramento State.

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