The annual U.S. Army All-Star Bowl comes to Rabobank Arena at 7 p.m. Friday, with the best senior football players in Kern County competing in an arena-football style game.
The game, previously called the Arena Bowl, is in its 13th year. This year's teams, Black and Gold, were drafted by the teams coaches -- former Bakersfield Blitz and Fresno State wide receiver Eric Mahanke for the Black team and the Gold team's combination of Independence coach Sean McKeown and Bakersfield Christian coach Jerald Pierucci.
The Gold team features BVarsity Player of the Year Asauni Rufus of Bakersfield High at quarterback; he's joined by five teammates from his state-champion Drillers squad, including Oregon State-bound receiver Kevin Hayes and All-Area linebacker Jeremiah Reddick. Colorado State-bound lineman Colton Foster of Frontier is also on the Gold team and BVarsity Defensive Player of the Year Grant Bouma of Bakersfield Christian.
The Black team will feature Frontier QB Evan Moore, plus BCHS receiver Josh Jackson, who led the county in receiving yards with 1,458, and All-Area speedsters Dominic Frasch of Garces and Derrick Vickers of Bakersfield.
Standout wide receiver Edrico Oliver, Jr., enrolled this week at Bakersfield Christian after transferring from Stockton-Brookside Christian, BCHS coach Jerald Pierucci confirmed.
Oliver, who is orginally from Bakersfield and goes by R.J., caught 51 passes for 840 passes for Brookside Christian as a junior last season, including 17 for touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound rising senior joins a roster that includes quarterback Brandon Jones, who tied the Central Section record for touchdown passes this past fall, and running back Matt Smith, who has run for more than 4,000 yards in his career.
Pierucci said Oliver needed to transfer to a school that had college preperatory classes he needed; Oliver is a good student who will take an unofficial visit to Northwestern this week and also has drawn interest from Harvard.
"I feel like he immediately is one of the top receivers in the (Central) Section," Pierucci said.
All-Star basketball games
The newest postseason basketball game in the Central Section, the All-Valley Basketball All-Star Game, tips off Saturday at Immanuel High School in Reedley.
The girls game is scheduled for 5 p.m. with the boys to follow at 7 p.m. The event begins at 11:45 a.m. with a guest speaker, Fresno Pacific coach Tim Beauregard, plus skills competitions, 3-point shooting contests and a dunk contest.
The game's stars come from the Central Valley from Bakersfield to as as far north as Turlock and Merced.
Local girls players expected to attend are: Johanna Wilke and Halle Neher, Taft; Cheyanne Miller, Frontier; Destiny Greenwood, Stockdale; and Candace Wilkerson, Ridgeview.
Local boys players expected to attend are: Rashad Jackson, Garces; Richard Bivens, Ridgeview; B.J. Shelton, Bakersfield; Kyle Ferreira and Bray Barnes, Liberty; Derek Check, Centennial; Isaac Clark, Independence; Elray Coleman, West; Fatai Eke, East; Braxton Huggins, Mira Monte; and Christian Bayne, Stockdale.
Liberty coach A.J. Shearon will coach the boys team.
Another Central Section all-star game follows a week later, on April 12 at West Hills College in Lemoore.
The Elite Seniors Boys game will tip at 3 p.m., followed by a girls game at 5 and another boys game at 7. All games will use a North vs. South format.
Locals playing for the South girls are: Karyssa Shugart, Wasco; Kendyl Estes and Brittany Fowler, Shafter; Saidee Espinoza and Marissa Figueroa, Chavez; Ashley Brown and Jackie Tafoya, Ridgeview; Chenoa Berumen, Garces; and Lashae Herring, Bakersfield. Chavez's Kenneth Gregory is the coach.
Locals on the boys South team: Shelton, Bakersfield; Check, Centennial; Ferriera, Liberty; Coleman and Malik Washington, West; Eke, East; Bivens, Ridgeview; Bayne, Stockdale; Clark, Independence; Jackson, Garces; and Huggins, Mira Monte.
Locals on the elite boys South team: Ali Sakr and Christopher Galafate, Kennedy; Barnes and Leonard Herring, Liberty; and Stephen Ntui and D.J. Reed, Independence.
BVarsity All-Area schedule
The schedule for publication of BVarsity's winter sports All-Area teams is as follows: all-league teams, April 11; boys and girls soccer; April 12; boys and girls basketball, April 13; wrestling, April 14.
Coaches and athletic directors: If you have not turned in your all-league team, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday.