Seven play for South All-Stars
The seven Valencia County players wearing the blue of the South All-Stars did not finish their prep football careers with a win, but they did not leave the turf of Albuquerque’s Community Stadium looking glum.
Overall, eight high school football players from the county were tapped to play in the 4A/5A North-South All-Star Football game held in Albuquerque on Wednesday, July 30 — Belen’s Trenton Barba and Andrew Castillo as well as Los Lunas’ Jalen Chavez, Darron Gallegos, Tyler Hansen, Chris Romero and Dakota Wood. Receiver Jacob Holland was also selected but opted to play in the boys basketball All-Star game Thursday night.
But Holland and fellow hoops all-star Chris Sanchez, who was also a member of the Tigers’ potent offense last season that ended its playoff run with a semifinal loss to Roswell Goddard, came down after the North’s 26-14 win, a game which saw all seven county players make their share of plays.
“Seven guys from our area on the team, that says something,” said Gallegos, who played defensive safety for the South. “There were a lot of good players on our team and theirs. We made plays, they made plays. It was a good way to finish.”
One of the biggest plays of the night came from the hands of Barba, who recovered a North fumble late in the game which almost sparked a comeback by the South squad. But sluggishness on offense did the drive in, as it did for much of the night.
Barba and Castillo of Belen, who were integral parts of the Eagle’s run to the semifinals last season, both played on defense last Wednesday.
Gallegos, who is planning to walk-on to the baseball squad at New Mexico State next season, saw his football career end Wednesday night, as did his Tiger teammate Chris Romero.
“It let us and our team know that all our hard work paid off,” said Romero, who will attend UNM to study mechanical engineering. “It was nice to come out one more time and play with our brothers.”
Wood, who will be walking on for the football squad at Eastern New Mexico in Portales, agreed. Chavez, who played wide-out instead of his usual running back position, is a preferred walk-on at UNM and began practice with the Lobos this week.
“We’ve been working for this since our freshman year,” Wood said of the All-Star game. “It was an honor.”
Belen’s Castillo, who wore a Los Lunas sticker on his maroon Eagles’ helmet for the game, said working with players from Los Lunas, as well as 4A opponents Roswell Goddard, was an experience he enjoyed.
“We fought against them in the season, but we came together this week,” Castillo said. “It was fun, I got to meet a lot of cool guys. We had dinner and played Putt Putt. It was great.”