Dos Palos High football Frank Lemos wasn't sure what he had in Kailan Hill last fall.
The Broncos' senior bounced around during his high school career -- four schools in four years -- and hadn't played football since he was a sophomore.
That left Hill with a bit of a learning curve.
But in a rare season where power, speed and athleticism weren't in overwhelming supply on Dos Palos' roster, Hill forced his way into the lineup with a combination of all of them.
"In the beginning it was just raw, run over you and try to get as many yards as he could," Lemos said. "As the season wore on and his vision, understanding of the plays and his natural instincts developed, he was a much more effective runner.
"He definitely got a little better every game. If we could have had him in the program one more year ... well, who knows what he might have done."
The nephew of DP legend Kenny James, Hill was well aware of what the town expects from its football team. As the season progressed, he delivered.
Hill shot his way up the depth chart to lead the Broncos with 1,459 yards and 15 touchdowns on 231 carries.
"Going back and forth from schools wasn't easy," Hill said. "Every time I'd get settled, we relocated again and then I didn't play football for, like, a year and a half.
"It felt good to just get out there and put on the pads again at Dos Palos, but it took a while before everything came back.
"After a few games I really got comfortable again."
Hill will get to lace them up one final time in his high school career, participating as a member of the South in the 27th annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football Game.
The action gets under way Friday night at Veterans Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:45 p.m.
"Getting to do this has been a real honor," Hill said. "I only played one year of varsity football, so getting asked to play means a lot.
"The practices have been fun and it's cool to see how I compare to some of the other guys. Dos Palos had a couple really good athletes, but these guys are the best of the best."
South has advantage
The South leads the all-time series 15-13 after pulling out a 17-10 victory a year ago.
South head coach Steve Nelson (Fowler) gets a versatile back in Hill.
"I can play whatever role my team needs me to," Hill said. "I can run between the tackles in the Power-I or use my speed out on the edge.
"I also like catching the ball out of the backfield. Basically, I just like getting as many touches as I can."
That was certainly true at Dos Palos.
Following in the footsteps of former workhorse Kevin Schofield, Hill averaged 23 carries a game. He carried the ball 30-plus times on three occasions, including 33 for 272 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff-clinching victory over Firebaugh in the Broncos' regular-season finale.
"My main concern was always the team winning," Hill said. "If we needed to pass the ball more to do that, it was fine with me.
"But whenever we needed to pound the ball on the ground, I was ready."
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.