FAIRFIELD — It’s the end of the East-West Charity All-Star Football Classic as we know it.
In a big way.
Saturday’s 42nd edition of the mid-summer contest at Napa’s Memorial Stadium will be the event’s final July game – it’s moving to December following the 2014 season – and the opposing teams are designated East and West in name only.
Gates open at 6 p.m., kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Vanden High’s LeVon Haynes, who has coached the East several times in the past, now leads the West, which is made up players from the Solano County Athletic Conference’s six schools as well as the rest of Solano County and those from Yolo County.
The East, coached by John Swett’s Bob Quesada, is comprised of players from the Monticello Empire League as well as other from Napa County schools and, obviously, John Swett of Crockett.
Haynes and Quesada have both had roster issues, the former losing his only true quarterback early on and the latter simply lacking numbers. The hope is that the move to December will increase participation.
“A lot of them didn’t play (this year) because they have to work,” Quesada said. “With the game in December it will make it easier for guys (still in) high school.”
“A lot of guys can’t play in it or won’t play in it – (such as) Deon (Williams), Chris (Broadnax) Ben (Scott) – guys that have committed to D-1 schools,” added Haynes. “It’s an opportunity to coach them one more time in an all-star game.”
Initially, Haynes had no intention of coaching this year’s game but volunteered once more and may in a few months as well – “In December I’ll probably do it again,” he said.
One reason he took the job was to help make sure there would be a game for the seniors who played in 2013.
“At first they thought about canceling the game and just doing it in December,” Haynes said. “That’s not fair to this year’s guys. I knew guys that really wanted to play in it.”
And “this year’s guys” will also be lining up alongside former league foes rather than across the line of scrimmage from them. It’s a change that has Haynes’ approval.
“I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what happens, see how well these kids are going to perform,” Haynes said.”We play against them and it’s different to have them on your side, it’s fun. I’ve built great relationships with some of these kids. (The game has) a different character, that’s the fun part.”
Vanden assistants Sean Murphy and Larry Hogue will coach the lines and special teams, respectively, with Haynes handling the offense. Vallejo’s Mike Wilson and his staff will coach the defense.
As offensive coordinator, Haynes had to scramble when quarterback Jared Houston’s Benicia Big League baseball team qualified for the Western Regionals in Bremerton, Wash., taking him out of the picture.
There was no other true quarterback on the roster, though Vallejo’s Damani Dillahunty, who split time under center for the Apaches last fall, was able to move over from his linebacker spot.
“We got it worked out,” Haynes said, though he refused to reveal anything more about his team’s offense. “We’re going to have some fun, play with excitement. It’s just a bunch of guys going to prove themselves . . . showcasing to the fans, to the coaches what type of player they are, excited about what they’re doing.”
When asked what kind of contest he anticipated, Haynes said, “I’m expecting a good game, I think its probably going to be a high-scoring game.”
He then thought for a minute and changed his mind, perhaps recalling last year’s 7-6 West victory.
“Actually, I don’t think it’s going to be high-scoring game,” the coach said. “Defenses are always ahead of offenses. All they’ve got to do is react to the football. (The winner will be) whoever plays toughest and hardest, whoever wants to win it, minimizes mistakes, sets the tone and executes in certain situations.”
Among those playing for the West, according to a 33-player roster Haynes released earlier this week, are Vanden’s Billy Hurst, Elijah Williams, Damaurius Muchison, Isaiah Creal, Jordan Garcia and Theo Bohanon, as well as Fairfield’s Marcus Blanton.
Quesada said he has “about 25 kids” on his roster, though the one released at the beginning of the month has had an extreme makeover. Among the Rodriguez participants he could recall are Jacob Hurt, Myles Perry, Ubonna Obioma, Miles Saunders and Johnny Coughman. No one from Armijo is participating.
“The boys have been great, I love working with them,” Quesada said. “They’re coachable, they’re all-stars. This game is not about winning and losing. It’s about boys having lots of playing time in their last high school football game. I believe in a heavy rotation and letting the boys shine.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.