2023 Wedemeyer Santa Clara County all-star football game preview
Mark Kaanapu knows all about the history of the Charlie Wedemeyer Santa Clara County All-Star Football Game and not just because he coached one of the teams in the 2018 restitution.
As the Westmont High coach noted this week, his father, Sam, played high school football against Wedemeyer while growing up in Hawaii.
“I met Charlie when I was 14,” Kaanapu said. “That’s why there’s a bit more connection on that side.”
Wedemeyer played at Michigan State in the late 1960s and became the head coach of Los Gatos High. He was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 1978 and battled this debilitating disease for 32 years before dying in 2010.
Her story was told in a 1988 TV movie and a PBS documentary.
The all-star game named in his honor is in its 48th edition. It moved from summer to winter in 2020 and has been played every year except for a one-year hiatus in 2021 due to the pandemic.
This year’s game is Saturday at Los Gatos High. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Participants are senior stars from Santa Clara County schools.
Kaanapu drives the North.
Gilroy’s Tim Pierleoni is the South’s head coach.
Branham’s William Augenstein prepares to move on in a match against Leigh on Sept. 16, 2022. (Thien-An Truong for Bay Area News Group)
The rosters include many players from the 2022 Bay Area News Group team, including quarterbacks Will Augenstein of Branham, Wills Towers of Archbishop Mitty, Armand Johnson of Wilcox and Tayden Phillips of Lincoln.
Augenstein, Johnson and Towers will do for the North, Phillips for the South.
The teams have been training for the past two weeks in preparation for a game that usually draws large crowds.
Proceeds will go to the ALS Foundation and Coaches Against Cancer.
Both coaches said they enjoyed working with their teams.
“Very good kids who like to play football,” said Pierleoni. “It’s been a lot of fun for us.”
“It’s good to see the best talent coming together,” he said. “You can talk about football and they will translate it and there is less training and you can go and play. It was kind of nice instead of trying to teach freshmen how to put on (the gear). It is refreshing.
Last year, the North won 15-14 when a 42-yard field goal attempt for the South failed in the closing seconds.
The South holds the series advantage 24-19-4.
Lucy Wedemeyer greets Pioneer’s Bryce Johnson before the Santa Clara County Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Football game at Los Gatos High School on Feb. 5, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Lucy Wedemeyer, Charlie’s widow, remains present before and on game day. She and her family greet the players during pre-game introductions.
“She’ll be out there with her clan, holding the court,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail said. “Lucy is always very involved. She helps run the program for the game. She helps out at the banquet. She’s into this stuff, which is great. It helps us.”
Lists and ticket information can be found on the All-Star Game website here.