11 Siskiyou County players tapped for Lion's All Star Football

Bill Choy bchoy@siskiyoudaily.com
Gage Kinkade of the Mount Shasta Bears will compete for the North squad in the 11-man football game at the 42nd annual Lions All Star Football Game Saturday in Chico. File photo.

High school might be over, but 11 Siskiyou County football players will have the chance to take the field one last time during the 42nd annual Lions All Star Football Game, to be held this Saturday at Chico High School Stadium.

They’ll no longer be Tigers, Bears or Cougars, but instead Lions donning purple jerseys for the evening.

In 11-man football, Gage Kinkade of Mount Shasta High School, Izaiah Martinez of Yreka High School, and Wyatt Black of Etna High School are taking part.

In the 8-man game, Siskiyou players include Lennoux Guzman, Brendan Neville, and Enrique Sanchez of Weed High School; Evan Freeman and Kyle Jones of Dunsmuir High School; Jordan McCartney of Happy Camp High School; Teagan Walker of Tulelake High School; and Austin Martinez of Butte Valley High School, which is located in Dorris.

The team will face a group of all star players from the southern half of northern California. They’re currently spending the week at Shasta College, where they’re becoming a cohesive team and gaining skills.

The 8-man game begins at 5 p.m. and the 11-man game is at 7:30 p.m on Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at: www.gofan.co/app/events/52944. Funds from the games go to the Lions Diabetic Camp at Camp McCumber. The camp benefits children with diabetes and their families. You can also contact players for tickets.

West Valley High School head coach Greg Grandell is in charge of the North 11-man team, while Jason Alvistur of Chico High is coaching the South. Mike Miller of Hayfork High is the North 8-man football coach, while Dave Keller of Greenville High School is the South coach.

The North began practice at Shasta College in Redding early Monday and will practice each day until Friday while the players stay on campus for an immersive camp experience.

Gage Kinkade

Kinkade was an All-League Mid-Valley selection for Mount Shasta. He will play quarterback and safety on Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said about the All-Star game honor.

Kinkade was the starting signal caller on the Mount Shasta football varsity team his junior and senior years, as well as a starting safety for the Bears.

He said that he’s ready to help the North team earn another victory in the All-Star game. The North 11-man squad has won nine out of the past 10 All-Star games.

“We just want to keep the North win streak going,” Kinkade said. 

He plans to stay close to home and play football at COS. He said that it’s a nice feeling to know he will have an opportunity to continue playing football in college so close to home.

Kinkade, who was born and raised in the Mount Shasta area, said he remembered going to Mount Shasta High football games growing up and cheering for the Bears. To be able to look around the field and stands and seeing kids cheer for him and his team like he did as a child meant a lot to him.

Gage did not play the sport as a child because his mom was worried he would get hurt, but she told him he could play once he reached high school.

He went out for football as a freshman, and quickly made an impression, earning the starting quarterback spot on the JV team his freshman and sophomore years.

He added that his parents, as well as his four younger siblings, have been very supportive of his football career and are always in the stands cheering him on.

Kinkade said his goal is to move on from COS and play football at a four-year school.

Brendan Neville

Neville was surprised when he was chosen to participate in the All-Star game. After transferring to Weed High School from a school in Arizona his senior year, he had to wait until the final two games of the season to play because of transfer rules.

“It means a lot to have this opportunity,” he said.

In his two games with the Cougars, he had 21 tackles and six sacks in his first contest. Playing quarterback for the Cougars, he finished with two touchdowns. In his second and final game, he had 14 tackles and two sacks, and threw a 56-yard touchdown on offense.

Neville said he was overwhelmed when he found out he had been selected to take part in the All-Star contest.

“I was jumping up and down,'' he said. “I was so happy.”

Neville said that his goal is to contribute in whatever way he can to the North team and be able to show what he can do on the gridiron. He will play wide receiver and linebacker on Saturday.

At this time, Neville plans to continue his football career at COS.

Enrique Sanchez

Sanchez, who played at Weed High School, will play running back and linebacker on Saturday,

“It means a lot to be playing in this game,” he said.

Sanchez, who was an All-League 8-man North selection this past fall, is excited to meet new people on the North team, learn all he can during practice this week, and contribute on Saturday,

He said his goal is to try to score a touchdown for the North squad. Sanchez said that it will be “different” to have a short period of time to prepare for a game with players from different schools coming together, but said he’s ready for the challenge.

Lennoux Guzman

Guzman will represent the Cougars at the All-Star game at running back and linebacker.

Guzman said he is honored to have been chosen along with his two teammates to represent Weed High School at the game. As a senior for the Cougars, he came away with All-League 8-man North honors.

He said that he enjoys the competition football provides, and the challenge of playing the sport, as well as the bonds he has made.

Guzman said he is ready to enjoy this week and to have the chance to play in front of a large group of fans in Chico Saturday. He wants contribute to the North squad and hopefully earn a win.

Evan Freeman

Freeman, of Dunsmuir High, is set to play offensive line and tight end for the North team.

“It means a lot to be chosen,” he said.

Freeman said he excited to participate in the contest, play well, and represent his school by displaying good sportsmanship.

“I want to play as hard as I can,” he said.

Freeman said that he enjoyed his time playing football in high school, the competition, and the friendships he made.

This fall, he plans to attend COS, but does not plan to play football. His goal is to eventually attend the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento with the goal of becoming a CHP officer.

Kyle Jones

Jones, a Dunsmuir High player, is set to play quarterback and defensive back on Saturday. Jones earned All-League 8-man North honors this past season.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said about taking part in the game Saturday.

Jones said on Monday he had enjoyed his first practice and meeting his coaches and the other players on the squad.

“We all get along pretty well,” he said.

Jones said his goals for the gridiron contest on Saturday is “to keep my focus, work hard, and play to the best of my abilities.”

He said that he was glad he was able to play football in high school, the friendships he made, and “the cool people I got to hang with.”

This fall, Jones plans to attend COS and does not plan to play football. After COS, his goal is to attend police academy.

Izaiah Martinez

Martinez has played football since he was 7, and said it means a lot to him that he was chosen to represent the Miner football program on a larger stage.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It’s really cool to be part of this game and be on the same team with players I have competed against.”

Martinez will play running back and linebacker on Saturday.

“I just want to go out, have fun, represent YHS well, get the win, and put it all on the field,” he said. “It’s exciting to see what will happen when you put all these great players together. It’s a big honor to be a part of this game.”

Martinez added that he has been hard at work preparing for the game by lifting weights and running. He said he can’t wait to be part of an experience like this.

Martinez plans to attend College of the Siskiyous in Weed this fall and has not decided if he will try out for the Eagles football team. His future goals are to eventually enlist in the military and to someday become a personal trainer.

Wyatt Black

Black said he can’t wait to take the field Saturday and play football one more time. He missed all his junior year of football at Etna due to a knee injury and came back to rush for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and earned Shasta Cascade All-League honors.

“It meant a lot to be chosen,” Black said. “I just want to enjoy this experience and have fun.” He added that he’s honored to be playing with the top gridiron players from the area and is ready to do what he can to help the North team earn a victory on Saturday.

He will play running back and wide receiver.

Black said he loves to run with the ball.

“There’s nothing like running the ball, seeing daylight, and outrunning the other team’s players and hearing the crowd roar and cheer for you,” he said.

Recently, he signed an athletic scholarship to play basketball at NAIA program Mount Marty College in South Dakota. Black scored 18 points per game for the Lions hoops team this past winter.

Jordan McCartney

McCartney will represent Happy Camp High and will play on the offensive and defensive lines.

He said that he is looking forward to Saturday. “It's most likely the last football game I will play in my career,” he said. “So, it is gonna be a pretty cool experience.”

McCartney said that one thing he loves about playing football “is the adrenaline you build up when your score a touchdown, or make a defensive turnover.”

“After you hear the announcer say your name, there is just something special about that I will never forget,” he added.

This fall, McCartney plans to join the military, most likely enlisting in the Coast Guard.

Teagan Walker

Walker, of Tulelake High, is set to play tight end and linebacker for the North 8-man squad.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this game,” Walker said. “I’m ready to go out, show what I can do, and prove myself.”

When asked what he enjoyed about playing football in high school, he said it was the close bonds he formed with his teammates, “It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “You have to rely on each other.”

He wants contribute to the North team and hopefully earn a win.

Austin Martinez

Martinez was a first team All-League 8-man North selection at Butte Valley his senior year. He will play running back and defensive back on Saturday.

Martinez said before the start of practice Monday he was looking forward to “meeting my new coaches, teammates and popping some pads.”

He said that he is ready to compete on Saturday.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected to play in the All-Star game,” he said. “I’ve had friends play in it every year since I got into high school and I always wanted to be a part of it.”

Martinez is grateful to play one more high school football game and said it has been a memorable experience competing in the sport the past four years.

“I enjoyed high school football so much because you do become a family out on the field,” he said. “Everybody has each other's backs.”

This fall, Martinez will attend COS, and plans to compete in track.