STOCKTON − For one final time, Calaveras High School’s Logan Weatherby and John Arbuckle got to put on a helmet and shoulder pads. For one final time, Weatherby and Arbuckle got to step onto a football field and play the game they’ve loved for the majority of their lives. For one final time, the Calaveras duo could call themselves football players. And for one final time, Weatherby and Arbuckle walked off the field as winners.
In the 46th Annual Lions All-Star football game, Weatherby and Arbuckle helped the North squad break a six-year winless streak against the South in an 19-18 victory Saturday night at Lincoln High School’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
“We ended on a bad note with the playoff loss to Escalon, so it was nice to end it all on a good note tonight,” Arbuckle said after the one-point win.
Arbuckle, who was the 2018 co-Mother Lode League Most Valuable Player, and Weatherby, who was the 2018 Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Mother Lode League, both played linebacker and special teams Saturday night. Arbuckle handled the kickoffs, while Weatherby punted.
Both players saw plenty of playing time on defense. They rotated with other players, but for the majority of the defensive plays, there was a Calaveras linebacker on the field. And even though he wasn’t wearing a jersey that read “Calaveras” on the front, Weatherby wasn’t nervous to play in his final football game.
“It wasn’t that much different than any other time,” Weatherby said. “I was ready to play and have a good time.”
At the end of the second quarter, the game was tied 6-6. At halftime, past all-star players were honored, which included Jason Weatherby, Logan’s father and longtime Calaveras football coach. Jason Weatherby played in 1983 and was named the all-star MVP. Seeing his father as part of the halftime festivities gave the younger Weatherby a feeling of pride.
“I got goosebumps when I heard his name called,” Logan said. “I love that I have this extra bond with him that most families don’t have (both being all-star players).”
The second half featured more explosive offensive plays, but Arbuckle produced his own memorable moment on defense. With under six minutes to play, he recorded a sack when the South’s quarterback was flushed out of the pocket.
“That was awesome,” Arbuckle said with a grin. “There’s nothing like getting a sack.”
The game was decided in the final 40 seconds, as the North was able to block a 27-yard field goal to hold on to its one-point lead. Weatherby was on the field when the kick was blocked and even though the game was an exhibition, there was no doubt both teams wanted to win and that passion was on full display from the opening kickoff to the final play.
“It’s just that competitive feature and every athlete has it,” Weatherby said. “When you step out there it all comes back and as a team, we were all on the same page.”
Arbuckle and Weatherby joined the list of the 70 other Calaveras football players who played in the all-star game before them. The head coach of the North was Mountain House High School’s Jason McCloskey and he was glad to have both players as part of the squad.
“We knew from watching them on tape that we wanted both of those guys because of the way they play football,” McCloskey said. “We tried to teach them a lot of stuff and they kept a positive attitude and wanted to learn. They were such grounded kids. They were the first ones up in the morning and they were always respectful. I'm very pleased with them and it was an honor to coach both of those guys this week.”
After the final whistle blew and the post game festivities concluded, Weatherby and Arbuckle hugged friends and family members one final time as football players. For Arbuckle, Saturday night was a perfect ending to his gridiron story.
“I’m content with the way things ended and now I’m rolling out,” he said.