During the first half, when completing a pass was an adventure, tailback Sharmon Shah of Dorsey High took control and carried the South to a 38-0 victory over the North in the 41st annual Shrine all-star football game Saturday at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.
Before a crowd of 7,000, Shah, who is bound for UCLA, rushed for 163 yards in a Shrine game-record 29 carries and scored two touchdowns, as the South ended a two-game losing streak and improved its lead in the series to 21-15-5.
Leading up to the game, the South appeared loaded at tailback with Shah, Scott Fields of La Puente Bishop Amat and Omar Love of Riatlo Eisenhower. But Fields ended up as the South's fullback and Love was switched to wide receiver because of injuries and players who failed to appear at practices during the week. That left the workload for Shah, one of two City players of the year last season.
"We went into the game pretty unorganized, but we knew we had a lot of talent in the backfield," said John Grootegoed, an offensive tackle from Santa Ana Mater Dei. "The line was a question mark, but we owned them."
Shah, who led Dorsey to the City 4-A Division title, got things started after quarterback Billy Blanton of Mater Dei failed to complete a pass in his first seven attempts.
Shah, who broke former UCLA standout James McAlister's record for carries in a game, finished with 91 yards in 16 carries in the first half. The North had only 81 yards total offense.
Shah helped set up the South's first score--a one-yard sneak by Blanton, The Times' Southern California player of the year last season--and scored its second on a one yard run to give the South a 12-0 halftime lead.
"In camp we weren't switching off too much, so I expected to get most of the runs," said Shah, who was named the South's most valuable player.
"Fields did a great job blocking in his first time ever having to play the position. He really came through."
Blanton finally got on track in the second half when he completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dameron Ricketts on the South's first possession.
Shah gave the South a 25-0 lead on a spinning six-yard run, which was followed by a 12-yard scoring run by Love.
South completed its scoring late in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard interception return by Adrian Ioka of Garden Grove.
San Diego State-bound defensive tackle LeRoi Glover of San Diego Point Loma led the South defense with 12 tackles.
The game has been traditionally played at the Rose Bowl but was moved to Long Beach because of construction.