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47th 605 ALL STAR FOOTBALL CLASSIC: West defeats East

 

Norwalk's Rashaad Penny gains five yards on his only third quarter carry in the 47th Annual 6-5 All Star Football Classic. Penny gained 31 yards on two carries but caught two passes for 77 yards in the first half. Penny's team, the East all stars, lost 12-3.

Norwalk’s Rashaad Penny gains five yards on his only third quarter carry in the 47th Annual 6-5 All Star Football Classic. Penny gained 31 yards on two carries but caught two passes for 77 yards in the first half. Penny’s team, the East all stars, lost 12-3.

By Loren Kopff

The 47th annual 605 All Star Football Classic was a time for selected seniors across the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section to play high school football one final time. Among those seniors representing the East squad were Artesia’s Tytus Simmons and Norwalk’s Dante Foster, Xavier Fuery, Daniel Moreno and Rashaad Penny.

The East led 3-0 for nearly half of the second quarter and throughout the third quarter. But the West scored the game’s only touchdown early in the fourth quarter and added five more points for a 12-3 win going away.

“It was great working with all of the guys; working with some of the best talent on the east side of the 605 freeway,” Penny said. “There was a lot of talent out here. They proved me well. It was a great matchup.”

LaMarr Crowder of Cerritos was invited to participate in the game but was replaced at the last minute by La Mirada’s Ahmed Ismael. In addition to the four Norwalk players and lone Artesia representative, the East was coached by Joe Veach and his entire Artesia coaching staff. Veach became the second Artesia head coach to guide the East. In 1993 and again in 2006, Norm Flowers was asked to coach in this event. In 1982, under a North vs. South format, former Artesia head coach Bill Montgomery guided the South team.

“I think it just shows that the guys we’ve had in our program in the past are guys who love football and love working with kids and teaching kids the game,” Veach said. “It shows that at Artesia, we’ve always been solid. We’ve never maybe won a CIF title and we’ve never done great things. But we have a lot of kids who come in and work hard and play good football. I think people recognize that.”

It didn’t take long for Fuery and Moreno to make their presence known as they combined for three tackles on the first drive of the game for the West, which ended when Alfredo Solis (Paramount) missed a 42-yard field goal. Moreno had another tackle early in the second quarter but following an interception in the end zone by Isaiah Almaraz (California), Penny finally touched the ball, but not from his customary wingback position.

The San Diego State University signee lined up on the end and caught a 46-yard pass from Scott Lloyd (Fullerton) to give the East a first down at the West 34-yard line. Immediately after the catch, the strong contingent of Norwalk followers began to chant, ‘Norwalk, Norwalk’.

“I’m always hearing everything they say,” Penny said. “They supported me loud and proud and I’m glad I had all of these fans out here to show me love. I just build off of that all the way to [San Diego State University]. I hope they follow me and I pray that they follow me.”

That pass play was the biggest one of the seven-play drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal from Jason Sanders (Villa Park). Penny would again dazzle the crowd on the last play of the half as he was on the back end of a hook and ladder play with Charles Kendrick (Villa Park). After receiving the ball from Kyle Blumer (Troy), Kendrick pitched the ball to Penny at the 43-yard line and took it down to the 12 before time ran out. Penny said the hook and ladder play was drawn up just one day before the game.

While Penny didn’t get his first rush until midway through the third quarter, that wasn’t as unusual as being a teammate for one night with Frankie Palmer and Matthew Rosales, just two of six La Serna players invited to play in the game. Last December, La Serna defeated Norwalk 41-38 in double overtime in the Southeast Division championship game. Palmer connected with Rosales for the game-winning 19-yard score.

“I was prepared for it,” Penny said of playing with the La Serna seniors. “It was awesome to work with them at practice every day. You wonder why they’re so great. They won the [Southeast Division] finals. They practice like champions and they play like champions. I’m glad I represented the East.

“Obviously it was [strange] but I just had to get used to it,” Penny added on his role for the game. “When I first came to practice, they wanted me to be a receiver. I’ll do anything for the East. I just had to get adjusted to it.”

Penny would pick up another 26 yards early in the fourth quarter to lead the East to its own 26 yards. Three plays later, following a fumble that resulted in a 35-yard loss, a bad snap sent the ball through the end zone and the West went up 9-3. Solis added a 38-yard field goal with a second left in the game to round out the scoring.

“It was good to be on the same sideline [as Penny] for once,” Veach said. “That was good. I enjoyed having Rashaad and being able to show him some different things than what he has done for the last three or four years.”

Penny, who was the Los Cerritos Community News Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,520 yards and scoring 40 touchdowns last fall, said he will remember the pride Norwalk showed during last season and the fight they had to get to where the team went, which was the championship game. Penny added that SDSU head coach Rocky Long has already indicated to him that he plans to get a lot of touches this upcoming season for the Aztecs.

As for Simmons, who will be playing at Cerritos College, he had consecutive tackles to begin the second half and one more for a one-yard loss moments later.

“Tytus and I have been through the wars for four years,” Veach said. “When Tytus was a freshman, we were 0-10 on varsity. The next year, we went 1-9 and the year after that, we went 4-6 and then finally 6-4 his senior year. It was great being able to come out here one last time and see him play and to see the growth that he has made from his freshman year to where he is right now.”

Another future Cerritos College player is Foster, who played defensive back but did not have a tackle. He, like everyone else who was on the Cerritos College field last Friday night, said it was a great feeling to be a part of the event.

“I came to the game last year and I [couldn’t] wait to play in it,” Foster remembered. “We fell short [tonight] but it was a great experience.”

Veach, who was called about three months ago and asked if he wanted to coach the East All Stars, said it was a challenge to coach a group of seniors from other high schools who had different styles than what Veach is used to coaching at Artesia.

“We had a great time,” Veach said. “It’s a lot of extra work, putting it on top with our spring football. The kids were great. The kids we had were awesome. We didn’t have a single complaint about any of them. They were very coachable.

“It’s a juggling act because you take a bunch of kids who are used to being ‘the guy’, whether it’s offense or defense, and you want to get all of them involved,” he added. “So, it is difficult. Then you put it on top of the fact that they’re all learning something new, especially offensively, with new terminology. Tonight was the first time we had our whole team at the same place.”

The West now leads the series 18-8-1 and Veach is the second Suburban League coach in the past three years to be a part of this event. In 2012, Bellflower’s Derek Brown guided the West to a 15-14 victory.

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