It’s that time of year when All-Star football games are plentiful for local high school football stars who get to continue to showcase their talent. The third annual Riverside Sheriff’s Association All-Star football game at Citrus Hill High took place Saturday, Jan. 18, and it was the Southeast Riverside County Prep All-Stars that defeated the Northwest stars 23-7.
It was a cold night in the Inland Empire, but when all was said and done, the energy wasn’t about winning or losing as players from both teams proudly displayed their awards after the game, hung out with teammates, families and friends who all made their way down to the field.
“It feels amazing,” Southeast linebacker Elijah Robinson, the game’s most valuable player from Citrus Hill High School, said. “We had great chemistry and played well on defense. It felt great to win one more time in my stadium.”
Robinson made eight tackles to spearhead the Southeast defense, which was led by Linfield Christian High School’s head coach, Dechon Burns, as the defensive coordinator.
Leading 3-0 at halftime, the Southeast began to pull away midway through the third quarter. Facing a fourth-and-two at the Northwest 2, Southeast quarterback Michael Harkins of Linfield Christian faked a handoff and then scurried around the right side for a touchdown. The Southeast led 10-0.
“We worked on that all week,” Harkins said. “We’d been running the trap frequently, but that time we faked it. It felt great. It was fun to play with all of these guys I’ve known for years.”
The Southeast broke the game open on its next possession when Linfield Christian’s Justin Manqueros bolted 43 yards for a touchdown giving his team a 17-0 lead, then celebrated with his teammates in the end zone in what appeared to be some sort of row-boat pantomime. At first the officials threw a flag, then picked it up.
“What the heck, it’s an all-star game,” one press box observer said, according to reports from other media outlets.
Trailing 20-0 in the fourth quarter, Rancho Verde High School’s Jordan Jefferson of the Northwest took a kickoff on the 2-yard-line, faked a reverse and sprinted 98 yards down the left side for a touchdown.
“We ran a reverse on our kickoff and then the fake, well it froze them, and I was able to beat the last guy and make it happen,” Jefferson said to reporters after game. “My linemen formed a wall. Until then we hadn’t scored, so it was cool.”
The game was intense, and fun, not only for the offensive playmakers like Harkins and Manqueros of Linfield Christian, but for the in-the-trenches lineman like Jonah Sellers of Rancho Verde and the Northwest team.
“It was great,” Sellers said. “I was able to play with a lot of my friends who I’ve known since freshman year. We got after it.”
Southeast QB Brock White of Chaparral High School completed 8 of 14 passes for 94 yards for the Southeast and Harkins completed 6 of 8 passes for 68 yards and had a rushing TD. Southeast receiver Antoine Sullivan of San Jacinto High School caught five passes for 65 yards while Elsinore High School RB Gemini Batimama led the Southeast’s ground game with 62 yards on four carries. Manqueros added 57 yards on three carries, including a long scoring run.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.