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South plans to take over Lions with ground assault

TURLOCK -- When it comes to all-star football games, the toughest task for most coaches is divvying up time and touches.

With a bevy of talent placed together, coaches are usually content to spread the ball around and give everyone a chance to showcase their skill sets.

Still, one would be hard-pressed to fault James Peterson -- head coach for the South in Saturday's Lions All-Star Football Game -- if he opted to lean heavily on the run this time around.

The Turlock head coach had the privilege of working with one of the most dynamic running backs in the section during the regular season in Ricky Fuentes.

He'll have six such backs at his disposal when his squad takes the field for the game's 38th rendition at University of the Pacific's Stagg Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

"We're just going to run four plays and let the kids get after it," Peterson said. "Everybody always says they want to play fast, but not everyone can do it. This group of running backs is fast and they're going to cause the North some problems.

"There were some really good guys from Oakdale that we couldn't take because we were so deep at that position.

"With guys like Jarrell Davis, Ricky Fuentes and Darron Brown, we're talking about kids that can run, throw and catch.

"It'll be interesting to see if their defense can match up man for man with our speed."

In addition to Fuentes (1,147 yards and seven touchdowns), Buhach Colony's Davis (1,580/21) and Los Banos' Brown (1,470/15), Peterson will also have Le Grand's Bob Perez (1,863/25), Modesto's Arquel Rogers (1,172/21) and Enochs' Herbert Whitehurst (784/15) at his disposal.

"We have a lot of talent and it's fun teaming up with guys that I grew up playing with," Perez said. "I'm pretty confident with my speed, but guys like Jarrell are in a whole other league.

"I feel like I'm holding everything up trying to get out and block on the sweep, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in the game."

Fuentes and Davis' pace and shiftiness should provide the South that home run hitting ability out on the edge. Perez and Brown will serve as bulldozers between the tackles, and the versatility of Rogers and Whitehurst should provide a little of both.

"Every team usually has at least one weak link, but I'm not sure we have one out here," Davis said. "All the running backs are capable of lining up anywhere, so we should be able to create some mismatches.

"And I think everyone's going to be pumped up. You see a guy break a big run, it inspires you to break one on your next carry.

"The North won last year, so hopefully we can get a win for the South."

The North's 15-14 victory in 2010 improved its all-time series lead to 22-14-1.

"I played in this All-Star game when I was in high school, so I'm pretty excited to coach one," Peterson said. "It would be nice to cut into the North's lead. Plus, their coach is the Lodi coach (Todd Dillon) who we lost to in the playoffs. So it would be nice to get a little revenge."

A little further South, Chowchilla and Dos Palos' best seniors will represent the County team in the 57th annual City/County All-Star Football game.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Veteran's Memorial Stadium.