This year's coaches--Los Alamitos' John Barnes for California, Smitty Hill for Texas--want to keep the fireworks between the lines. And they each have plenty of firepower.
Among the California players are three of Barnes' stars from last season. Quarterback Kevin Feterik passed for 3,226 yards and 28 touchdowns, wide receiver Tony Hartley caught 86 passes for a county-record 1,687 yards and 13 touchdowns, and wide receiver Stan Guyness caught 42 passes for 11 touchdowns.
"[Passing] is what we know," Barnes said. "I kind of feel that if we can execute it pretty well then we'll have an advantage."
What troubles Barnes is the offensive line's unfamiliarity with his system.
The passing schemes used by Los Alamitos depend on split-second timing. Even with the limitations placed on all-star game defenses--no exotic formations, no blitzing--if the linemen are uncertain about their blocking assignments, Feterik and Scott Towne of Stockton St. Mary's will have a difficult time finding receivers.
"Our offense won't work if we're dropping every other pass or getting our quarterback sacked," Barnes said. "We have to execute to make it work, and that's what we're concerned about.
"I think if we can go out and execute on offense, then they have a tough game. If we can't, it'll be ugly. Hopefully that won't happen."
Other players to watch include La Puente Bishop Amat running back Ralph Brown (2,246 yards, 29 touchdowns), the Division I player of the year who will play in the defensive backfield, and Concord De La Salle's Leon Callen (2,049 yards, 30 touchdowns).
Hill spent 23 of his 35 seasons coaching in high schools (most notably Port Arthur Jefferson, the alma mater of Miami Dolphin Coach Jimmy Johnson) before retiring four years ago. His teams were defined by imaginative, daring play. In one game, Port Arthur Jefferson attempted seven on-side kicks.
"I'd like to think we're approaching it like any other game," Hill said. "We'll try to play all phases of the game. Try to eliminate as many mistakes as we can; we figure the team that makes the fewest mistakes is the one that wins.
"I don't look at football through rivalries in a situation like this. We haven't played them before, so it's impossible to have any true feelings. We have state pride and they do too. We think Texas plays pretty good football, and California does also. That was evident in the game last year."
Houston Klein fullback Mike Green (2,284 yards, 32 touchdowns), and Midland kicker David Leaverton, who booted a 62-yard field goal last season, are expected to lead Texas.
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Shrine Game Rosters
Manny Austin (Los Gatos), WR
Ralph Brown (La Puente Bishop Amat), RB/DB
Oscar Cabrera (Los Angeles Franklin), OL
Leon Callen (Concord De La Salle), RB
LaCorey Collins (Oakland Skyline), WR
Jarrett Cooper (San Jose Independence), DB
Steve Craig (Fresno Clovis West), DB
Gabe Crecion (Canoga Park Chaminade), TE/DE
Dominic Daste (La Verne Damian), OL
Ennis Davis (Reseda), DL
Na'il Diggs (Los Angeles Dorsey), DE/LB
Kevin Feterik (Los Alamitos), QB
David Gibson (Mater Dei), LB
Scott Graham (Bakersfield), OL
Stan Guyness (Los Alamitos), WR
Tony Hartley (Los Alamitos), WR
Ted Iacenda (Newhall Hart), FB
Tony Ippolito (Stockton Lincoln), OL
Kevin Jordan (Lomita Narbonne), DL
Jermaine Lewis (Lancaster Antelope Valley), RB
Thabiti Lockhart (Oakland Fremont), DL/LB
John Merandi (Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World), OL
Jeremiah Pharms (Sacramento Valley), DB/LB
Trevor Roberts (Norco), OL
Garrett Shea (San Jose Bellarmine), DB
Pat Smith (La Mesa Helix), OL
Terrelle Smith (Moreno Valley Canyon Springs), LB
R. Jay Soward (Fontana), WR
Joel Sugg (Irvine), OL
Nate Tandberg (San Diego Rancho Bernardo), P/K
Scott Towne (Stockton St. Mary's), QB
Josh Webb (Turlock), OL/DL
Micah Webb (Turlock), OL/DL
Brad Williams (Mater Dei), DL
Rosco Zamano (Fontana), LB
Jason Zdenek (Canoga Park Chaminade), DB
Head Coach: John Barnes (Los Alamitos)
Matt Anderson (Cuero), OL
Cornelius Anthony (Sugarland Willowridge), LB
Kessey Boyd (San Angelo Central), DB
Eddrick Brooks (Aldine), LB
Elijah Burkins (Port Arthur Jefferson), RB
Derrick Curry (Houston Jones), DE
Kenneth Davis (Houston B.T. Washington), WR
Derek Dorsey (Cedar Hill), DB
Reginald Durden (Houston Sam Houston), WR
Mike Gandy (Garland), TE
Mike Gree (Houston Klein), FB
Adam Guthrie (Austin Reagan), DL
Fred Hackney (Alto), DB
Harland Hill (Cedar Hill), RB
Joe Hubbard (Hooks), OL
Duane Jackson (Taylor), QB
Anthony Johnson (Lubbock Monterey), WR
Charles Jones (Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt), RB
David Leaverton (Midland), K/P
Seth Luker (Stephenville), DT
Steve McFadden (Houston Wheatley), OL
Robert Neal (Garland), DB
Andre Offing (Houston B.T. Washington), TE
DuShun Piper (Lakeview Centennial), LB
Alvin Porter (Dallas Adamson), WR/DB
Donnie Prentice (Odessa),OL
Jon Rhiddlehoover (Abilene Cooper), OL
Marcus Sanders (Mesquite), DE
Bryan Smith (Tatum), LB
Chad Smith (Denison), OL
Marcus Stiggers (Richardson Lake Highland), DB
Clint Stoerner (Robert E. Lee), QB
Randy Stout (San Angelo Central), DT
Justin Thomas (Plano East), DB
Brandon Tinney (Lakeview), OL
Cedric Woodard (Sweeny), DT
Head Coach: Smitty Hill