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605 ALL-STAR FOOTBALL CLASSIC Trio of Valley Christian players, coaching staff enjoy final time together

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

WHITTIER-Any all-star high school football game will always be special for those who are playing or coaching in it. As it relates to Valley Christian High head coach Woodie Grayson and his staff, plus seniors Ravon Chambers, Clay D’Amico and Eric Schoonover, they all had dreams of participating in this game and now they will have the memories to share for a lifetime.

Grayson coached the West squad in the 50th Annual 605 All-Star Football Classic last Saturday night at Richard Torres Stadium on the Pioneer High campus and while his team managed just a field goal, Grayson will never forget the past three weeks or so.

“It was a great honor for me because this was a game I played in all the way back in 1986,” Grayson said. “And to be able to come back and to coach it in the 50th…anytime an all-star game lasts for 50 years, it’s something special. It’s just an honor to be a part of it.”

Grayson became the second V.C. coach to have been at the helm of one of the teams in this event. In 1987, the legendary Mike Wunderley guided the East to a 15-12 victory. This time around, it was the East coming away with a 24-3 win, the widest margin of victory by either side since 2000 when the West came away with a 40-18 triumph.

With 6:22 remaining in the second quarter, D’Amico, who found out a couple of months ago he would be playing in the game, connected on a 47-yard field goal which tied the game at the time.

“The offense drove down and I just had to put it away because they got me there,” D’Amico said. “I had a good block, good hold, good snap…our snapper is good. It was pretty much just doing my job.”

D’Amico’s long kick fell four yards short of tying the 605 All-Star Football Classic’s record set by Renee Weitmann of Santa Fe High in 1983. D’Amico also had a kickoff to begin the game, which was returned four yards by Stanley Berryhill of Orange Lutheran High and one more following the field goal, this time to Shaun Colamonico of Edison High which was returned 11 yards. D’Amico punted five times with three of them being returned. The first of those three returns led to a 46-yard field goal from Harrison Avila of Laguna Hills High with 9:58 left in the second quarter which put the East up 3-0.

“It means a lot,” D’Amico said of playing in the game. “I’m super grateful for the opportunity. To meet new kids is pretty cool.”

After D’Amico’s field goal, the West offense was stymied as it did not cross midfield until early in the fourth quarter. The East would hold a 10-3 lead at halftime, thanks to a 15-yard scoring run from Westminster High’s Joshua Avila with 3:04 left in the first half. The game was still close until Colamonico went in from three yards out late in the third quarter. Then with 36.8 seconds remaining in the stanza, James Rafkin of Buena Park High tossed a 35-yard strike to Pervis Henderson of La Habra High for the final score.

“We struggled; it just seems like we were not quite in sync up front,” Grayson said. “We dropped a few [passes] early and we missed dome open guys. It’s an all-star game. It’s hard to get these guys all on the same page in three weeks.”

For Chambers, this was a second chance to show his talents to everyone in attendance. The lineman, who has played varsity for three seasons, was injured and missed the final eight games. When he was in action, he made 32 tackles, had an interception and a fumble recovery.

“When I injured myself, I thought it was all over,” Chambers said. “But then I got a call [asking if I] want to play in the 605 game and I got a second chance to show my talents to the rest of the coaches and fans who came out here.”

Chambers said he used to have Pop Warner teammates who were in this game and one of his favorite moments last Saturday night was simply getting back in the action. He also said it was honor playing with them one last time after getting injured early in the 2016 season and added that some people don’t have a chance to be able to play in this game. Because of that, he said that it was a huge honor.

“Win or lose, be proud of yourself for making this game,” he said to future players of this game. “Playing in this game is a great honor. This game is extremely fun, you’ll enjoy it and you’ll make huge memories of it.”

For Schoonover, another three-year varsity player who plans to play at Washington State University, his father played at Gahr High and played in this game. Another lineman who had 38 tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery, he found out three weeks ago that he would be playing in this game.

“It was a really good experience,” Schoonover said. “My dad played in it and he always wanted me to play in it and keep the Schoonover name alive. So, when he found out that I was playing in it, he was real excited and that got me really excited to play and show him that I am just as good as he was back in his prime.”

Schoonover said it was a comfort playing for Grayson and his coaching staff because he already knew all the plays and defensive schemes.

“It was a lot easier because they all knew me and they knew my potential to play,” he continued. “It was a good time to have my coaches and not have to meet new coaches and show that I’m a good football player.”

“I think anytime you get to coach the game of football, you’re always looking for opportunities to coach the best and be around the best guys,” Grayson said. “That’s what this is. These are amazing kids who come in from their own programs and they work hard and they listen and do the things that you ask them. It’s just an honor to be around guys who love the game. That’s the best part of it for me.”






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