Who are the unsung players in Optimist Football Classic (and area’s winningest coaches)?

Sacramento High senior Javon Felton (26) is on the South roster for the 61st Optimist All-Star Football Classic on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Sacramento State. Felton was a big-time running back who also produced on defense and special teams for the Dragons.
Sacramento High senior Javon Felton (26) is on the South roster for the 61st Optimist All-Star Football Classic on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Sacramento State. Felton was a big-time running back who also produced on defense and special teams for the Dragons.

These senior showcase games are not always for players who capped their seasons with a state championship.

The 61st Optimist All-Star Football Classic on Saturday at Sacramento State - 1 p.m. kickoff - is also a haven for the unsung, overlooked and still developing.

The South roster includes anchor players for Folsom High School’s back-to-back CIF State Division 1-AA title teams in linemen David Ruiz, Tyler Hardeman, Joe Wagner, Caleb Freeland and Kaden Richardson, and defensive back Caleb Nelson, linebacker Dylan Jorge and do-all talent Parker Clayton.

The South team also features Capital Christian school-record rushing holder D’Marcus Ross and Bee All-Metro teammates Will Buck and Trey Jones. Ross will share handoffs with fellow Bee All-Metro running back Tyrell Smith of Sheldon.

And the South roster also includes stellar seniors who competed under the radar, including Monterey Trail tight end/defensive end Germaine Spearman, Sacramento all-purpose leader Javon Felton and the Lincoln quarterback-receiver duo of Tommy Turner and Harry Rounds.

Spearman was a key cog to Monterey Trail’s 12-1 season that ended in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship loss to Folsom at Sac State.

Felton was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Dragons who played hurt and inspired for a playoff team, and he also made plays on defense and special teams. Turner and Rounds became the most prolific quarterback and receiver in Lincoln history. Turner passed for 2,347 yards and 22 touchdowns, hitting Rounds 78 times for 1,315 yards and 18 scores for a playoff team.

The North includes stars who led Del Oro to a CIF State title game in defensive back Dawson Hurst, lineman Wyant Berry and kicker Ryan Whalley. Del Campo school-rushing record holder Levi Markey is also on board, as are Rocklin twins Cole and Cade Wyant, who play linebacker and quarterback.

And there are Jesuit stars Cade Brownholtz (defensive end), Cade Cunningham (all-purpose), Hank Harvego (quarterback) and Connor McIntee (tight end).

The unsung North players include Rio Americano running back/linebacker Jack Cartwright, whose team went 2-8 but not for any lack of Jack effort.

“They can all play,” North coach John Volek said.

Said South coach Max Miller, “Everyone’s working hard in practice. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of good players on both sides.”

Coaching milestones noted football coaches who added to their milestone victory totals in the 2018 season.

Tony Martello of Colfax eclipsed the 200-win barrier while later leading the Falcons to a CIF State championship game in a 13-1 campaign.

Terry Stark of Inderkum won his 200th game early in the 2017 season and is now up to 220.

Dave Humphers of River Valley in 2017 also hit the 200-win total, mostly from his days at Nevada Union.

Nevada Union is also where Randy Blankenship amassed several victories in the 1980s. Now the coach at Aptos near Santa Cruz after myriad state-wide stops, Blankenship has 285 victories.

A milestone The Bee noticed was Mike Alberghini of Grant, who now has 275 victories, all since 1991. That makes him the region’s winningest coach, surpassing the 264 set by Max Miller, mostly at Cordova (Miller retired following the 2017 season).

The Sac-Joaquin Section leader for career wins is Mark Loureiro of Escalon, who retired following the 2017 season with 282.

With 15 starters back for 2019, Grant figures to give its famed coach a real shot at the 282 milestone.

Sheldon day of hoops

Bee No. 1-ranked Sheldon is the host venue for Saturday’s Adidas Challenge, an all-day boys basketball showcase of some of the best teams in Northern California.

No. 17 Burbank and Center start the action at 9 a.m., followed by Benicia vs. El Cerrito, No. 20 West Campus vs. Damonte Ranch of Reno, Capital Christian vs. No. 11 Inderkum, No. 4 Oak Ridge vs. Liberty of Brentwood, No. 15 Woodcreek vs. St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo, No. 7 Sacramento vs. defending CIF State Division III champion Pleasant Valley of Chico, No. 2 Folsom vs. College Park of Pleasant Hill and the 9 p.m. nightcap of Sheldon against Dublin, which is ranked No. 7 in Northern California by MaxPreps.

According to, 6-foot-7 forward Marcus Bagley of Sheldon is a 5-star recruit, as is Dishon Jackson, a 6-8 forward for St. Patrick-St. Vincent.

Four-star players in the Adidas Challenge include Dublin guard Robby Beasley and Sheldon guard Xavion Brown. Three-star players include wing Jacob Brown of Oak Ridge.

Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson:, @SacBee_JoeD,

Related stories from Sacramento Bee