Hilmar High coach Frank Marques believes the intelligence level of high school football players has risen in the past decade.
That's why he believes installing game plans and schemes for the South team leading into Saturday's 45th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game won't be a problem.
Marques is coaching the South, which is made up of players from Stanislaus and Merced counties.
"I think all high schools have gotten more sophisticated over the years," Marques said. "Kids are smarter now. A lot of schools use more complicated systems."
Marques will install the spread offense that helped Hilmar win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship this past season.
It's Marques' second time coaching in the Lions game. He jokes he still has bad memories of coaching in the 2006 game when the South was driving for the go-ahead score late in the game when the North intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown to seal the victory.
The South players will spend the week in the dorms at Stanislaus State with practices in the morning and night before Saturday's game at Tracy High School’s Wayne Schneider Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"It should be a lot like college," said Buhach Colony defensive back Irik Dobbins, who will play for the South. "With everybody here, we've already started to click."
Dobbins is headed to Fresno City College this fall. He's looking forward to meeting some of the top players from the area.
"It feels great to get back out there," Dobbins said. "I get to play with a lot of good players. It should be fun."
Marques likes his team on paper, despite a large number of players who have dropped out of the game.
The North will have two quarterbacks in Los Banos' Anthony Caballero and Patterson's Gabe Sanchez, who both come from spread offenses. They are both dual-threat quarterbacks with the ability to hurt defenses with their feet.
Both Patterson and Los Banos are well represented on the South roster. Sanchez is joined by Tigers teammates Kendrick Bond (defensive back) and Jacob Vainuku (defensive line). Los Banos' Daniel Guerrero (receiver), Anthony Borba (offensive line) and Juan Bravo (linebacker).
There are just two players from Modesto — linebacker Anthony Fagundez of Enochs and defensive lineman Ramon Machuca of Downey.
Turlock has four players on the team in Gabriel Cordero (linebacker), Jordan Porter (defensive back), Tyler Etharidge (running back) and Brandon Flores (defensive line).
"I feel we have a good O-line, we have two good quarterbacks. They seem to be real athletic quarterbacks," Marques said. "We have excellent running backs. We're pretty solid all around."
That's why Marques is excited for this week.
"I looking forward to getting to know them personally," Marques said. "The small schools are really represented in this game. I'm excited for those kids to get a chance to play. I don't see really any challenges with these guys. It's just building chemistry with the team, everyone gelling together."
Game: 45th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. (pregame 6 p.m.)
Where: Tracy High School’s Wayne Schneider Stadium
Tickets:General admission, $10; Children . 6-and-under, free
Series: North leads 24-18-2
Coaches: South, Frank Marquez, Hilmar; North, Anthony Martinez, Lincoln of Stockton
Key Rules: 12-minute quarters; every player must play at least three minutes per half; 10-point rule in effect, which means team trailing by more than 10 points receives kickoff after scoring; 10-point rule to be used only in the second half and can only be used twice but not consecutively; no stunting, blitzing, line stunting between the 10-yard lines; no block punt (exception is bad snap); No fake PAT or FG (defense can rush).
Website (rosters): www.lionsallstarfootball.com/2018