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Mustang All-Stars Gallop To Victory In Gridiron Classic
The North All-Stars, in their blue jerseys but wearing individual team pants and helmets, got pumped up before kickoff. The North won the Rotary clash, 33-19. Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz

The 32nd Annual North South Rotary Bob Green Football Classic was held this past Saturday night in Merced. Representing the North were three Oakdale High School players: Cullen Bearden, Zac Thomas and Jacob Tietjen. The trio of Mustangs helped power the North to a 33-19 victory.

“I am looking forward to taking the field one more time with my brothers, Zac and Jacob,” Bearden said prior to the start of the game.

Just a week before, Bearden was named Defensive Most Valuable Player in the 44th Annual Central California Lions Club All-Star Football Game. Bearden had 20-plus tackles in that game.

Prior to kickoff, Bob Green and the Rotary Club honored the late Dennis Wallace with a moment of silence. Wallace was a high school football official for over two decades; the deputy sheriff was killed in the line of duty last November. His brother, David Wallace, delivered a heartfelt speech about the late Deputy Sheriff. Bob Green then stood next to Dennis’s widow as they presented the Dennis Wallace Scholarship to Zack Gardner of Escalon, a standout cross country runner and golfer who graduated from EHS earlier this month.

On the field, the North wasted little time and scored on the defensive side of the ball when Merced’s David Perales scored on a fumble recovery from the first play of scrimmage. Perales’s return was good from 27 yards out, setting the tone early. The North trailed 12-7 in the second quarter but pulled ahead on a 27-yard touchdown catch by Ceres wide receiver Conner Johnson to give the North a 14-12 lead. In the third quarter the North started to pull away and scored on a fake punt to go up 26-12 and scored on a 54 yard touchdown pass late in the game to go up 33-19.

In the win Bearden and Thomas caused havoc on the defensive side early in the game delivering heavy hits, and offensive lineman Tietjen protected the quarterbacks and helped make holes for the backfield.