Clovis News: Sports

County high school football stars want respect

Garrett Steele always has wondered.

Kevin Schofield, too.

Could two of the Central Section's top stars at mid-sized high schools have done as well at a bigger school?

Steele was a quarterback and safety at Kingsburg High, where he passed and ran for more than 2,000 yards while guiding the Vikings to the section's Division III title this past season.

Schofield played running back and linebacker for Dos Palos, where he amassed 149 tackles and rushed for 1,926 yards and 19 touchdowns.

They certainly have gaudy statistics on their résumés. But could they have done similar damage facing the likes of a Clovis West offense or defense on a weekly basis?

"I always was curious to see if I could compete with those guys," Steele said. "Are they that much better than me because they went to a big school? I think I could hold my own."

Steele and Schofield will get at least a glimpse today, when they play in the 57th annual City/County All-Star Football Game at 7:30 p.m. at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Steele will play his natural position of running back, and Schofield will be a linebacker for the County, which features players from Central Unified as well as Fresno's outlying communities. The City is made up of players from the Clovis and Fresno unified districts, as well as private schools Fresno Christian and Memorial.

"It's a pretty cliché answer to say us County guys have a lot more to prove just because we're facing the City, when really it's more about playing one last high school football game," Schofield said. "When it comes down to it, football is football, and the guys that do well are the ones who are willing to work and put in the effort to get better no matter where you're from."

County coach Mike Sparks, who stepped down at Dos Palos after 22 years, admits he's only dealt with and kept track of players from smaller schools that the Broncos might have faced.

But the coach knows football talent and said he has no doubt that Steele and Schofield could play at the big schools.

Steele received a scholarship to play at Football Championship Subdivision program Cal Poly, Sparks notes, and Schofield will continue his career as a walk-on at Brigham Young.

"The biggest difference is the big schools have more students to pick from and so they typically have teams that are better and with more depth," Sparks said. "But you can't tell me that Garrett or Kevin wouldn't be one of the first guys picked even at those schools."

Steele and Schofield, who were named the County's offense and defensive captains, respectively, at Thursday's banquet, agreed they aren't playing to prove anything.

They just want to perform as well as they have in the past.

And if they do that, there will be no question that Steele and Schofield belong among the section's best.