STOCKTON − The hot afternoon sun beat down on the football field at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School and the temperature climbed to 105 degrees. While most try to escape the summer heat, top football players from the Sac-Joaquin Section embraced it.
Monday marked the first practice for the 46th annual Lions All-Star Classic Football Game, and newly graduated Logan Weatherby and John Arbuckle will get to represent Calaveras High School one final time as they were selected as members of the North squad.
Arbuckle, who was named the 2018 co-Most Valuable Player of the Mother Lode League, views being selected to play in one of the oldest high school football all-star games in California as a reward for the hard work and dedication to the sport he loves.
“We worked hard the past four years, and this is closure for my football career,” Arbuckle said at the end of Monday’s practice in Stockton. “I know I’m not ever going to play football again, so this is a good way to end it.”
As for Weatherby, playing in the all-star game is something that is now a family tradition. Jason Weatherby, Logan’s father, also represented Calaveras in the all-star game in 1983. Now, 36 years later, a Weatherby will once again play for the North.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be selected to this team,” said Logan Weatherby, who was the 2018 Mother Lode League’s Defensive Player of the Year. “My grandparents are part of the Lions Club and they would always talk about it. I worked my butt off trying to get here and it’s an honor to be selected.”
While Arbuckle and Weatherby know what it’s like to be teammates, they now have a whole new squad of players to get to know. The 30-man North team is made up of players from all over the Sac-Joaquin Section, which includes Sonora, Argonaut and Escalon, who Calaveras faced in 2018. Former foes Mason Flores (Argonaut), Nash Satnat (Escalon), Bryan Wynne (Sonora) and Garrett Anderson (Sonora) will battle together to help defeat the South.
“It’s a cool experience,” Weatherby said. “We are all just out here to play football. Everybody’s getting along, and we are ready to play some ball.”
Weatherby and Arbuckle have not worn a football helmet since Nov. 9, 2018 when Calaveras was defeated by Escalon in the second round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI football playoffs. The game was played on a cold Escalon night, where the temperature dipped into the 30s. Now, seven months later, the Calaveras linebacker duo is back on the field where the weather is much different.
“It’s crazy just jumping back into it,” Arbuckle said about playing football again. “It’s kind of uncomfortable. Everyone else is inside when it’s 100 degrees, and that’s when we are out here.”
Saturday night will not be the only all-star game that Weatherby will take part in this week. On Friday, he’s slated to play in an all-star baseball game at San Joaquin Delta College. Initially, Weatherby didn’t know if it would be possible to squeeze in both games.
“I’m really excited, but my first thought was, ‘I’ve already committed to play football. Will I be able to play baseball?’ I talked to the coach and he told me that we’d be able to make it work,” Weatherby said.
Even though Arbuckle only gets to play in one all-star game this week, the linebacker is looking forward to making one final impact on the gridiron.
“I’ve got six months of anger caged up, so I’m ready to let that out,” he said.
As for Weatherby, Saturday will be a dream come true, and he’s glad that he’s not the only Calaveras football player who will be suiting up one final time.
“John and I got pretty close outside of football as well,” Weatherby said. “It’s nice to have him here and experience this with him.”
Pregame festivities begin at 6 p.m. Saturday night at Lincoln High School in Stockton, with the game beginning at 7 p.m.