Sure it was an exhibition game, but don’t tell players on the North that last week’s 40th annual Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game didn’t matter. The team with nine local players approached it like there was a championship at stake.
The opposition? Not so much. The South all-stars were outplayed and physically overmatched from the opening possession by a spirited squad guided by Los Altos High coach Trevor Pruitt.
The North prevailed 37-3 in the showcase for standout players from Santa Clara County who graduated this year. It was the side’s largest margin of victory in the game’s history.
“I’m just so proud – words can’t even explain it,” Pruitt said after the July 23 contest, played in front of a close-to-capacity crowd at San Jose City College. “It’s tough in 10 days to get the guys on the same page, and today all of our guys were on one page.”
Although limited to 10 practices, Pruitt and his staff had the North – which included four of his own players, two each from Mountain View and St. Francis highs and one from Gunn – ready to compete at kickoff. They jumped to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter and built a 31-0 advantage by halftime.
“I think we were really well prepared – our coaches did a great job,” said Los Altos’ Lambie Lanman, who started at quarterback. “They set us up for success and we did what we’re supposed to do – we executed.”
Lanman led the North to a touchdown on the game’s first possession, a run-heavy drive spanning 12 plays and 83 yards that took advantage of the team’s powerful offensive line. After starting the series with six straight handoffs – the first three to St. Francis halfback Alex Andrighetto for a total of 18 yards – Lanman fired a 25-yard strike to Los Altos receiver Victor Ruiz at the South’s 21-yard line.
“I was looking for him,” Lanman said of Ruiz, who finished with three catches for 56 yards. “Victor’s a tremendous receiver.”
Five plays later, halfback Keenan Smith (Santa Clara High) cut left and darted across the goal line for a 9-yard touchdown.
The North didn’t have to wait long to get the ball back. A three-and-out drive by the South nearly ended in disaster as the snap to punter Grant Bush (Bellarmine) went over his head and forced him to quickly boot the ball from the end zone.
Taking over at the South’s 41, the North needed only two plays to reach the end zone. Both were runs by Westmont halfback Mark DeRobertis, who scored on a 30-yard scamper.
Andrighetto accounted for the North’s next touchdown, a 10-yard run up the middle that required breaking a few tackles.
“That was awesome,” said Andrighetto, who totaled 57 yards on nine carries. “That goes out to the line, though, because without them, I can’t do anything.”
The extra point by Luke Vereschagin (King’s Academy) made it 21-0 with 7:32 left in the first half.
The South fumbled away the ball on the first play of its next series, allowing Lanman to begin his second drive of the night (Pruitt rotated the North’s four quarterbacks each series) just 25 yards from the opponent’s end zone. Lanman fired a 15-yard pass to Ruiz on third down, setting up a first-and-goal situation. The drive stalled from there – though Lanman and Ruiz nearly connected again on third down – forcing the North to settle for a 17-yard field goal from Vereschagin.
Lanman spearheaded another scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. He launched a 60-yard pass to Homestead receiver Bryan Erickson for the game’s longest play, which put the North at the 15. A penalty on the next play helped derail the drive, however, and the North wound up with a 37-yard field goal by Vereschagin that pushed the lead to 37-3.
The South avoided the shutout when Bush nailed a 25-yard field goal midway through the third.
The North defense – receiving contributions from Gunn safety Sean Lydster (Los Altos Hills), Mountain View linebacker Jake Butters and Los Altos defensive tackle Ofisa Pati – dominated the South offense most of the night. The South mustered only 205 yards, fumbled twice and didn’t have a play longer than 17 yards.
Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football game - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier