51st edition of Shrine All-Star Football Classic reverts back to all-California north vs. south format and it's all South as Long Beach Poly's Hershel Dennis keys 43-13 win.

Okay, before we get started recapping the Shrine Game played on Saturday, July 13, at Mt. San Antonio College, we have to admit some biases.

First, we used to be involved on a contractual basis with the Shriners and now that we're not (the relationship ended after the 2000 game), we're not going to cover it even remotely as much as we used to.

Second, when the game was a north vs. south California game from 1986 to 1993, we had a major hand in picking who played for each team. That the North actually had a winning record of 4-3-1 in those games says something about our player personnel abilities.

It appeared this year that organizers either didn't know who to pick or weren't able to get the players they wanted for the North team. Based on the two rosters, you would have expected the South team to roll and that's what happened by a 43-13 count.

A pretty good crowd of 5,243 showed up to witness the carnage. Trent Edwards of Los Gatos, the future Stanford quarterback, was the most prominent player for the North but didn't have much help. It was the opposite for Matt Moore of Hart, the future UCLA Bruin, who scored two touchdowns on keepers and passed for 148 yards and one touchdown.

The MVP for the South and for the game was Long Beach Poly running back Hershel Dennis. He racked up 93 yards on 20 carries and scored one TD. He certainly strengthened his case that he should have been considered the top running back in Southern California from last season over St. Bonaventure's Lorenzo Booker. Let's just hope they both go on to productive careers in college and beyond.

The 43-13 final score was not the most lopsided in the North-South Shrine Games. In 1992, the South trounced the North, 38-0. In 1972, the South won, 42-0 and in 1964 it was the South winning, 41-0. The North's biggest win has been 32-0 in 1957.

In games involving the entire state north vs. south, the Shrine Game series now stands at 17 wins for the South with 10 for the North and five ties. From 1974 to 1985, the Shrine Game featured a north vs. south format but in those years only schools from Southern California were involved.

Hershel Dennis' MVP honor for the game also carries a bit of trivia. The last Long Beach Beach Poly player to be MVP was Gene Washington in 1965. Washington went on to be a great player at Stanford and for the San Francisco 49ers. He also could be in line to be the first black commissioner of a major pro sports league when Paul Tagliabue one day retires as commissioner of the NFL. We need to add that the MVPs are our own based on archived game reports going back to the first game in 1952.

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