Plenty of all-stars set to carry load in Rotary football game

slynch@mercedsunstar.comJune 30, 2013 

— Stefon Gold is used to sharing the workload.

As a member of Buhach Colony's fly offense, the senior has thrived in a world of divied-up touches and touchdowns his entire high school career.

But as talented as the Thunder's 'Fly Boys' have been the last four years, Gold acknowledged he may have never taken the field with as many game-changing running backs as he did during Monday's first practice for the North squad in the 29th annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football Classic.

"It's actually pretty fun," said Gold, who rushed for 1,047 yards and 19 touchdowns with the Thunder last season. "We've got talent everywhere.

"We have a bunch of 1,000-plus yard backs, we have a big, strong offensive line and we're learning an offense that likes to run the ball.

"Everyone has different running styles and different approaches to not just football, but life. I'm excited to see what we can do."

Ripon head coach Chris Johnson certainly has an embarrassment of riches coming out of the backfield with 1,000-yard backs such as Gold, Rayshaun Vance (Golden Valley), Marcus Northcutt (Oakdale) and 2,000-yard back James Sams (Los Banos) at his disposal for the North.

For the second straight season, the Rotary All-Star game will be held at Veterans Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:45 p.m.

The North defeated the South last year 40-3, but the South holds the all-time series lead at 15-12.

The run game could play a big part in trimming that margin this year with the team running a simplified version of Ripon's Shotgun Wing-T.

"The way I see it, it's a privilege just to be out here with so many talented running backs," Vance said. "It's kind of funny, we were talking about how when we played each other, the game plan defensively was always to key on each other.

"I think we all really bonded pretty fast in just one day, so it'll be fun to be on the same sideline with each other for once."

The toughest problem for Johnson — like most All-Star coaches — might be spreading around the touches, but he said the nature of the offense should help keep everyone involved.

"The thing about a game like this, is you know all these kids know what to do with the ball when they get it," Johnson said. "The one major difference is they are probably used to running north-to-south right after they get the ball. With this offense there might be a little more lateral running than they are used to.

"But these kids all have high football IQs and are really competitive. They'll be able to make the adjustments."

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