MONTEREY – Gilroy High School senior quarterback Nick Marra and
senior offensive lineman Andrew Benjamin were key members of this
season’s Mustangs football program, and because of their
accomplishments they have one more chance to represent their high
school in a prep football game.
MONTEREY – Gilroy High School senior quarterback Nick Marra and senior offensive lineman Andrew Benjamin were key members of this season’s Mustangs football program, and because of their accomplishments they have one more chance to represent their high school in a prep football game.
Both were nominated, and selected, to participate in the 26th annual Salinas Jaycees All-Star football game tonight at 7 p.m. at Monterey Peninsula College.
“Nick has proven himself,” GHS head coach Greg Garcia said. “He was willing to sacrifice himself for the team by playing hurt.”
Marra led the Tri County Athletic League in a number of statistical categories, including yards, completions and touchdowns.
“Andrew came to us from Valley Christian and he was a Mustang from day 1,” Garcia said. “He was a no-nonsense guy. He wanted the best for the program and gave everything he had.”
Benjamin was a fixture in the trenches for the Mustangs, giving Marra time to drop back and find receivers.
“I was excited when coach told me,” Benjamin said Wednesday. “I thought I wasn’t going to play again so I am looking forward to another chance to get out there.”
The annual exhibition of talented youth, selected from the 20 teams that account for the three leagues in the greater Monterey Bay area – the Tri County Athletic League, the Monterey Bay League and the Mission Trails Athletic League – is in its 26th year, co-chair of the game and director of the Salinas Jaycees, Don Chapin said.
“We are looking for the most outstanding players and sportsmen,” Chapin said. “We want guys who try the best they can in everything, including studies. We look at there effort and attitudes.”
The players chosen were split up and placed on either the West or East squad, “almost in a draft” and have been practicing for the past week and a half, Chapin added.
“Practice has been good,” said Marra, who added that he expects to play around three quarters. “We all get along and have been switching helmet decals.”
In recent years, the all-star game had fallen upon troubled times due to on-the-field violence and poor sportsmanship.
But new formats, a new venue and for the second year in a row, the game is being played in January instead of June, stature and integrity has been restored.
“For the first time all 20 schools nominated players,” Chapin said. “We had a player and parent meeting and laid out all the rules. This is a big tradition and big honor to be playing in this game. We let them know that if they act up they are out.”
Nineteen of the 20 schools will have players representing their institutions tonight.
The East is headed by coach Norm Silva of King City and have players from, Gilroy, San Benito, Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, Watsonville King City, Greenfield, Monta Vista Christian and Monterey.
Palma quarterback’s coach Ron Stefani is in charge of the West and players from, Alisal, Alvarez, Carmel, Palma, North County, Pacific Grove, North Salinas, Pajaro Valley and Seaside.
“During the season, when we played, we didn’t get along,” Benjamin said about some of the players on his new team. “Now we are like one big family.”