The stars, the big names, the players with all the numbers were on offense.
But the defenses dominated the 29th annual Alex Spanos All-Star Classic on Saturday at San Diego Mesa College.
So in the fourth quarter, North coach Ron Gladnick abandoned the pass and went to the old reliable — the wing-T.
The switch in the fourth quarter produced the winning score as the North ground out a 14-7 win, its fourth time in a row.
“Dang right I did,” said Gladnick, Torrey Pines’ coach, when asked of the switch.
San Marcos pure passer Miles Hastings had been the quarterback for all but one play for the North. But after a 53-yard punt return by Thadeo Campbell (Central) set the North up at the South 27, Gladnick turned to Michael Linguadoca, a wing-T quarterback at Santa Fe Christian.
Five plays later, Evan Galluzzi (Torrey Pines) found the end zone for the winning score.
“I came into the game as a safety,” Linguadoca said. “But we lost Jason Heine (Torrey Pines) to an injury, so I was the backup QB.
“In the fourth quarter, Coach Gladnick said to stay by him. He asked if I could run the wing-T. “It’s a tough offense to learn, but I felt right at home. It’s what I ran all season, it’s my offense.
“This was an amazing experience. We only practiced together for a week, but I love these guys.”
The South struck first on the game’s first series when Puka Stewart (Otay Ranch) found a wide open Casey Granfors (University City) with a 52-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the half turned into a series of missed opportunities and fumbles before the North’s Jonny Tanner (Rancho Bernardo) recovered a fumble at the South 49 with 1:14 to play.
The North drove to the South 12 before Caleb Mancini (San Marcos) connected on a 30-yard field goal as time ran out.
One of the highlights of the first half was a 58-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Sanborn (Francis Parker). Sanborn, who is committed to play for Stanford, was just short on his attempt.
The North got to within a point late in the third quarter when Mancini connected on a 44-yard field goal. The score was set up on an interception by Luke Kay (La Costa Canyon).
The South, which was quarterbacked by Stewart and Nathan Barnett (Steele Canyon), completed 11-of-16 passes but for just 100 yards.
The North had six sacks, three by North MVP Leo Speidel (Torrey Pines).
“Being the MVP is a huge honor,” Speidel said. “The South had some ballers, but defense wins games.
“Once we knew we could get to the quarterback, we knew we could win the game.
“Our defensive line dominated. We knew we had to make plays.
“This game was a blast.”
Linebacker Josh McCurty (Eastlake) was the South MVP.
The North rushed 27 times for 91 yards and Hastings completed 17-of-32 passes for 127 yards. Six of the completions went to Dane Olson (San Marcos).
The South rushed 26 times for 49 yards.
“It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t perfect, but it was fun,” Gladnick said. “The was one hell of a defensive effort — on both sides.
“The defenses made things happen.”
The North now leads the series 14-11 since it went to a North-South format. This game — for graduating seniors from the 2018 season — is the longest running all-star game in California.
by John Maffei