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No. 65, Quincy’s Michael Fowler, takes on the whole front line when necessary.

Lion’s All-Star football games play in Oroville’s searing heat

Greenville’s Brent Washoe scowls at the heat during the Lion’s All-Star Football Game in Oroville on June 17. Photos by Mari Erin Roth

At 5 p.m. on June 17, it was 100-degrees in Oroville. All-Star players from the Sierra were dressed in full football gear ready to play.

Four athletes from Greenville: Brent Washoe, Tyler Cherry, William Gibson and Sheridan Kusel joined their Greenville coach Dave Keller on the football field in Oroville. The boys were chosen to be members of the “South” Lion’s eight-man All-Star football team at Harrison Stadium.

The beautiful green AstroTurf field was covered with tiny bits of black rubber to “further cushion landings” according to stadium personnel. The entire field even has a cooling system underneath that was turned “up,” but it was still scorching hot.

The stands were full, completely full … on the shady side. The opposing stands in direct sunlight were completely bare.

Joined with other elite players chosen from Redding Christian, Mercy, Los Molinos and Princeton high schools, the Greenville boys were high-spirited and really made an effort to “lean into” the heat and the game.

The AstroTurf drew blood as players slid along its nylon surface causing shiny bright red forearms and elbows. A crew of helpers was constantly busy filling red plastic Solo cups with water and delivering them to the athletes between plays.

“Pour both of those cups on my head,” said South teammate Tyler Opdyke from Redding Christian as his cheeks nearly matched the color of the cup.

All players on both teams showed considerable effort, but it got a little harder for the South, as they were never able to get a point on the scoreboard. The game ended with the score 49-0. Being chosen as “All-Star” athletes is a big win in itself and the heat of the day ensured the All-Star game may be one the Greenville players will never forget.

It was much cooler at 7:30 p.m. when the 11-man teams took the field in a relatively chilly 99 degrees. With the sun still beating directly on the field and the opposing stands, a group of five individuals pitched a shade cover and occupied the empty sunlit stands. Perhaps they wanted to ensure they had good seats for when it cooled to 89 degrees, predicted for midnight.

Okay it was hot, that is probably clear by now. For the graduated senior boys from Portola — Edgar Cuevas, and from Quincy —  Cody Morrison and Michael Fowler, it was time to take on the heat.

The three local boys joined with athletes from Foothill, Etna, Anderson, Hamilton, Fall River, Mt. Shasta, Yreka, Orland, Enterprise, Redding Uprep, Red Bluff, Burney, Lassen, West Valley, Corning, Central Valley and Trinity high schools to make up the team for the “North.”

Greenville’s Sheridan Kusel focuses on what’s next.

An occasional breeze came through the stadium with promises of a cooler future … some day. There was no shade for the players, the heat was on and so was the game. The red solo cups kept coming to the field for the boys.

“Hydrate, hydrate,” the coaches would repeat continuously.

Michael Fowler was added to the team late in the planning to replace a player who dropped out, but he was first on the field June 17. And on the field he was, play after play during the first half. Cuevas made some dashing appearances, but Cody Morrison stood mostly unused on the sidelines for the majority of the first half. The North took the lead for a time in the first half, in a game that turned out to be neck and neck to the end, on the “cooling” shiny AstroTurf.

All the local boys did get some time on the field during the All-Star game where the scoreboard finally recorded a loss for the North, 36-30, in a very close game. Perhaps they should have expanded their use of Morrison.

In any case, it IS something special to be selected as a Northern California Lion’s All- Star and all of the boys, from Greenville, Portola and Quincy, who played can take that with them for the rest of their lives. The challenge wasn’t easy, but the tough factors will only help cement the memory in their young minds of their accomplishments.

All proceeds for the 40th year of this annual event support the Children’s Diabetic Camp (Camp McCumber) located seven miles outside of Shingletown.

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