Sanger players star in County All-Stars football victory

Robles scores touchdown and Immanuel’s Coleman adds 2-point conversion catch, Central’s Marquez captures MVP honors in 35-7 rout on June 21

County ballcarrier Israel Robles of Sanger High drags a City tackler during the second quarter of the County’s 35-7 victory in the 70th annual All-Star game at Fresno’s McLane Stadium on June 21. The Apaches star running back rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter and had two other big runs in the game for the County. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published June 25, 2024  • 
11:00 am

FRESNO — The six members from Mid Valley Times region schools on the County All-Stars made their presence felt during a dominating victory in the 70th edition of the annual summer football matchup.

Combined with an MVP performance from quarterback David Marquez of Central High, the County put up four unanswered touchdowns in the game’s final 25 minutes to roll to a 35-7 victory on a warm night at McLane Stadium. It was the second straight win in the series for the County, which trails the all-time series 37-25-3 (seven games were played under a North-South format).

Marquez set the tone for the night with a .42-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter as County relied on a clock-eating ground game to set up big-play passes. After the City briefly took a 7-6 lead on a 10-yard TD run by Mario Cosma (Clovis North) early in the second, the County answered with an 83-yard drive to chew up most of the remaining quarter.

Marquis Cropper, one of four Sanger High players on the County roster, had a reception to move the chains before a personal foul penalty moved the ball to the City 10. Moments later, Marquez hooked up with Grizzlies teammate Braylon Hall on a 3-yard TD pass with just 38 seconds left in the half. Hunter Babb of Caruthers added a two-point conversion run to make it 14-7.

A County interception on the first play of the ensuing City possession set up a big score to end the first half. After completing a long pass to Central’s Noel Felix to move the ball inside the 10, a lateral to lineman Nathan Velasquez of Sanger was stopped at the 9 with four seconds left.

On the following play Warkentin found Felix in the right corner of the end zone with no time left, and Julian Magdaleno (Orange Cove) added the extra point to make it 21-7 at the break.

The County defense, featuring lineman Adrian Sosa from Sanger, then kept the City off the scoreboard the rest of the night, turning away one scoring threat in the fourth quarter. The County broke the game open late in the third, when Apaches star back Israel Robles raced 30 yards inside the 10 and then took it the final five yards for a touchdown. Marquez then hit Coleman out of the backfield for a two-point conversion and 29-7 lead.

The County tacked on one final score for good measure in the fourth, getting a 65-yard touchdown run from Noah Luginbill (Clovis). Robles had three long runs on the night and paced the rushing game with Marquez, while Coleman and Elpidio Gamez (Sanger West) provided blocking and receiving options out of the backfield.

Velasquez, one of a number of regional athletes who will attend Fresno Pacific to compete in track and field, anchored a solid County front line that protected Marquez and Warkentin and chewed up yards on the ground.

Reedley High’s Salvador Mendoza originally was on the County roster, but didn’t play in the game. In addition to Warkentin, Kingsburg High was represented by Kenyan Simpson, Denis Gagnon and Kalvin Voyles. Gamez was the first Sanger West graduate to play in the City-County game.

Jon Earnest