Coaches take rivalry to field in All-Star Game
Tulare Western’s Ryan Rocha, Porterville High School’s Michael Machado lead West, East squads in Tulare-Kings All-Star Game
TULARE COUNTY – The 2019 Tulare-Kings East-West Football All-Star Game will feature a pair of rival East Yosemite League coaches leading the two counties best football players onto the gridiron. The game is Saturday, June 22, at Groppetti Community Stadium. Kickoff and scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Tulare Western’s Ryan Rocha will be leading the West squad, and is making his fourth appearance in the all-star game. In 2009, he made his first appearance as an assistant coach under the El Diamante coach Mark Rogers. He was head coach for the west in 2014 and 2017. He just completed his seventh season with the Mustangs, and has compiled an impressive resumé that includes a 52-20 record, one EYL title in 2015, and two D-III Valley Championship appearances.
“This game is a fun experience,” Rocha said. “When you see all the names who have coached this game before you, it is truly an honor.”
Porterville’s Michael Machado will be coaching the East squad in his first appearance as a head coach. In 2012 served as an assistant coach for Mark Gambini at Mission Oak. In two seasons with the Panthers Machado has revived the program to once again be a potential EYL contender. In 2018 he led the Panthers to their first winning season at 8-3 in five years. They made their first playoff appearance in four seasons, but lost to the Wasco Tigers 20-7.
“It is a great thing to have a lot of talented kids coming together,” Machado said.
Mt. Whitney’s Jaedyn Pineda will be lining up under center for the East squad. He threw for 3,845 yards during his senior campaign. He went 224-357 and accounted for 54 of the Pioneers’ 56 touchdowns through the air. He also orchestrated a second half comeback during the Cowhide Game for the second season in a row.
Central Valley Christian’s Eric Draget could see some playing time under center as well. As a senior he went 105-180 for 2,186 yards and 30 touchdowns. He averaged a 127.0 quarterback rating, and was a huge reason why the Cavaliers made it to the Division 4-AA State Championship Bowl Game.
Strathmore’s Damian Valencia will be anchoring the East’s linebacker corps. He brought down 106 ball carriers last season; 79 of those were solo. He amassed 250 tackls in four years. His nose for the football was a big reason why Strathmore made it to their third straight State Championship Bowl Game.
Valencia leads a strong East defense. He will be joined by teammate Jadon Gurie along the defensive line. Guire was second on the team with 91 tackles. Thirteen of those tackles were for a loss and he added two sacks.
Host school Golden West will have three players in this year’s game. Jose Luis Ramos will see some time at defensive back. He had 34 tackles, five interceptions and a blocked field goal last season.
Jordan Harris saw playing time at the line backer position for the Trailblazers in 2018. He secured 26 total tackles, and has three sacks to his credit.
Exeter’s sole all-star player Josiah Martinez rounds out the defensive corps.
The offensive side of the ball for the East will feature Woodlake’s Joshua Benavidez. The last season’s senior player rushed for 558 yards and five touchdowns on 104 carries. On the Tigers’ defense, he had 38 tackles.
Josiah Washington rounds out the Golden West players at wide receiver. In his final season, he hauled in 16 catches for 440 yards and five scores for an otherwise run-only offense.