The 13th U.S. Army All-Star Bowl, the nation's only high school all-star game played in an arena-style format, had a strong Tehachapi presence both on the football field and through the support staff last Friday night at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Representing THS in the game was Skylar Valencia (running back -- wide receiver), Joseph Blewett (offensive line), Sean Casey (linebacker -- special teams) and Allysia Lara (cheerleading).
In addition to the athletes, the event featured long-time Coy Burnett Field chain crew members Gary Childress and JC Hickey. Childress and Hickey are considered to be two of the best chain officials in California and manned the down markers for the fourth-straight year. DJ and Michael Rickheim were entrusted with game flow support and staging while Cummings Valley Elementary School fourth grader Brinley Marks provided a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem prior to kickoff.
Former Monroe Principal Paul Press spearheaded the event as the owner of the US Army All-Star Bowl through his company, Press Promotions, Inc. The THS football players and lone cheerleader were selected for the Gold Team, in a 'Gold vs. Black' game format pitting the best athletes in the area. Only 50 total football players were selected to participate in the event from schools around Kern County. The Black team defeated the Gold team in the game, 60-33.
"I got in the game really early and it was just exciting. To come in here and play with all these great players who were state champions and valley champions was an honor," said Casey. "Losing or winning, it doesn't matter. We just all came out here and gave it our all. They had all-stars and we had all-stars and it was just a great time."
Valencia was selected after being a first team All-SEYL athlete and amassing 1,478 yards rushing, 52 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns last fall. Blewett was a two-time first team All-SEYL lineman that helped Mountain Football to 3,414 yards rushing and 47 total touchdowns while also contributing on defense with 18 tackles. Casey was an honorable mention All-SEYL linebacker that finished last season with 75 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. In cheerleading, Lara was a 2014 CIF Division III and SHARP champion and helped guide her team to a second place finish at nationals.
Two Warriors were awarded scholarships through the US Army All-Star Bowl Committee. Casey earned a $250 Community Service award and Lara eared a $500 cheerleading award. Lara became just the second THS cheerleader to represent the community in the All-Star bowl. Sarah Bowersox was Tehachapi's other selection back in 2010.
"There were cheerleaders from all over Bakersfield and it was exciting to be a part of this. (I could not) be here for the tryouts. We were snowed in that day. I had to jump through some hoops to make the team and luckily I did." said Lara. "To represent the gold team and our three players from Tehachapi was huge to me."
After high school, all of the participating THS athletes plan on attending college. Blewett is deciding on a handful of different schools on the west coast, Casey plans on attending Antelope Valley Community College to pursue football and Valencia will have almost a full-ride (85 percent) football-athletic/academic scholarship to attend Tabor (Kansas) College. Lara will participate in the ROTC program at Northern Arizona University with plans to join the Army after her studies are complete. Lara has already declared a major in Communication Studies with a minor in Public Relations.
"It was a great time with all these schools coming together," said Valencia. "I've had numerous coaches that have taught me so much. Now that (high school football) is over, it's time to go full-speed and move forward to what's next."