STOCKTON - Boomer Green had not caught a pass all week in practice. To quarterback Trevor Mew, that meant Green was due.
"I told him, 'I'm throwing to you. We're counting on you.' " Green said.
Those words were all Green, the swift receiver from Enochs, needed to hear. He caught Mew's fade pass in stride, stepped away from beaten defender Alfred Gross, and sped the remaining 55 yards into the end zone with the 80-yard bomb with 7:23 left that clinched the South's 19-3 victory Saturday night in the 36th Lions All-Star Football Game.
The play demonstrated the South's game-long efficiency all night. It didn't commit a turnover - the North had four - and rode a brilliant night by quarterback Trevor Mew of Central Valley, the game's overall MVP.
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Mew, the biggest reason the South snapped a six-game losing streak in this series, completed 11 of 16 passes for 177 yards and touchdown passes to Hodari Peterson, Ronyea Ellington and Green. His performance resonated in front of a crowd of about 2,500 at Stagg Memorial Stadium.
"He's a great kid with a great future. We thought we could have thrown every down," South coach Dennis Stubbs said in reference to Mew, bound for Modesto Junior College. "He's a great leader and one of the nicest kids we had in camp."
The most valuable defensive player was South linebacker T.J. Belton of Central Catholic, who recovered two fumbles and forced another.
"We were tired of hearing all the time that the North had better players," Belton said. "We were reminded all week about that, but I thought how we bonded together was more important."
The win closed the South's gap in the series to 21-14-1.
Though the Lions Club has worked hard to keep the game alive for nearly four decades, its future is not exactly carved in stone.
"It's getting tougher and tougher," said Wayne Schneider, the former football coach at Tracy and one of the game's founders. "We've got video games, laptops, TVs everywhere. The kids are saturated with entertainment."
The Lions, however, have remained true to this game: $374,520 has been raised for charitable projects targeted by Lions clubs over the years.
"Much of that money was raised during the early years when we drew big crowds," Schneider qualified. "We had about 4,500 two years ago. We need to get between 3,000 and 5,000 tonight." That didn't happen.
Stubbs and his staff pushed his team through nine practices plus a Saturday morning walk-through, all within a six-day window. It's not easy for anyone - Lions committee workers, coaches and players - to pull together a high school football game in June. Then again, the focal point is the game's strength - teenage boys, the area's football best, anxious to put on one more show.
"It's a chance for these guys to make new friends and some bonds that might last a lifetime," Stubbs said. "It's been a lot of fun."
Bee sports writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.