It was wet and windy, but as game-event creator and coordinator Mike Finnerty told a frozen crowd before kickoff, "Hey, it's football weather!"
And it was some game.
D'Juan Bellaire of Center High School rushed for 68 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 13 and four yards, and linebacker Joe Victoria of Galt had a superb defensive game to key a 16-12 South victory over the North in the first All-City Small-School Football Classic on Saturday night at Del Oro in Loomis.
Bellaire set Center school rushing records in powering the Cougars to their finest season, a deep run into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs and he looked the part of All-Star on his driving, twisting and turning 13-yard score.
Victoria earned South MVP honors for his defensive stops in a scoreless fourth quarter. The powerfully built 6-foot-5, 255-pounder was a bright spot for an otherwise dreary Galt season in which low numbers forced the forfeiture of a game. South coaches knew they had a player this week in practice when Victoria took a blocking sled and upended it - by himself.
Bear River quarterback Dillon Smith was the North MVP, passing for 82 yards and hitting Deion Blakely of Lindhurst for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Michael Robinson of Placer rushed for 32 yards and had a two-yard score for the North. Korey Hall of Dixon ran for 70 yards for the South. Quinton Kirk ran for two two-point conversions for the South after a stellar fall season for the Cougars.
Finnerty, the veteran SureWest Sports cable and radio host, came up with the game concept to highlight small-school talent. The game will continue to follow the 56th Optimist All-Star Football Classic that is heavy on large-school players.
This showcase featured athletes from Divisions IV, V and VI, from tiny Foresthill, Bradshaw Christian, Valley Christian, Woodland Christian and Capital Christian to D-IV powers Bear River, Dixon and Colfax.
SOUTH 16, NORTH 12
North 0 6 6 0 - 12
South 0 8 8 0 - 16
N-Michael Robinson 2 run (kick blocked)
S-D'Juan Bellaire 13 run (Quinton Kirk run)
N-Deion Blakely 30 pass from Dillon Smith (run failed)
S-D'Juan Bellaire 4 run (Kirk run)
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
- On podcast: ESPN1320.net
- On cable: SureWestSports.com