Local quartet lends hand to West victory

LA PUENTE — For anyone watching the East take on the West in Friday night's Hall of Fame All-Star football game at Bassett High, the most lasting memory of the West's 34-14 victory was likely West and former South El Monte High receiver Tommy Cogburn's electrifying 178-yard, three-touchdown performance.

For the players, however, some taking part in their final football game, the personal significance of the cool summer evening on the gridiron runs deeper than statistics and big plays, and the memories of every single down they spent on the field Friday figure to remain vivid for some time to come.

Two St. Francis grads, Daniel Scheper and Kyle Morgan, and Tanner Farwell and Parker Haleen of Crescenta Valley all played for the victorious West squad Friday night, and while some of their college plans include more football, the end of the Hall of Fame game marked the bittersweet conclusion of all of their high school football careers.

“That was probably the best way you could end a high school career,” said Haleen, who started at middle linebacker, moments after finishing the game with six tackles. “Every play, everyone was going at it. I loved the intensity. ...I had a blast out there.”

Haleen played the entire game, but logged most of his time on the field in the second half when the East regrouped and was able to sustain its possessions longer.

During the first half, it was Farwell, who started at left tackle, and Scheper, the starter at right guard, who rarely came off the field. Over the first 24 minutes, the West, which snapped the East's streak of dominance Friday at six straight wins, monopolized time of possession in building a 14-0 halftime lead.

“It feels good to stop the streak like that, very good,” said Farwell, who played center for the Falcons. “It was an honor [to play such a big role in the game], because moving from center to left tackle, [it was] a big difference.

“I just got coached right and everything came through.”

The West scored first on a short screen pass from Duarte quarterback Austin Goldsmith that the speedy Cogburn parlayed into a 30-yard touchdown reception with 4:04 remaining in the first quarter.

A 33-yard gain by Cogburn with 8:29 left in the second quarter set up a first and goal for the West on the East one-yard line.

Scheper, Farwell and even Haleen were on the field on the offensive line for the next three downs, on the last of which Duarte running back Chris Harris broke the plane for a 14-0 East lead with 6:00 left before the half.

The East capitalized on a West turnover early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-7 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Isaac Tucker of West Covina at the 9:00 mark.

The West went back up, 21-7, on a 44-yard touchdown pass from South Pasadena's Jonathan Troast to Cogburn, but Tucker then set up the East to strike back quickly when he returned a kickoff to the West 5-yard line.

Haleen, a 2007 All-Pacific League pick, made a touchdown-saving tackle for a one-yard loss on third down, but the East would get into the end zone anyway on fourth down and four courtesy of a run by South Hills' Brandon Parham.

Clinging to a one-touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter, the West went up, 27-14, on the third touchdown catch of the game by Cogburn, a 60-yard hookup with Troast.

Troast then found Alex Valdez of Schurr with a 58-yard touchdown strike with 1:45 in the game.

“We didn't have that many offensive linemen, we only had about five or six,” said Farwell, a 2007 All-Pacific League selection. “We just bonded together during practices and we had a great scheme and we executed it right.”

Haleen, Farwell and Morgan all plan to continue playing football next season at Glendale Community College.

But for Scheper, a three-year starter and 2007 All-Mission League lineman at St. Francis, Friday's game was the last go-round.

“It's hard not to have fun out there,” Scheper said of his last football game before moving on to play rugby at Notre Dame University next year. “It's just an unbelievable experience and I couldn't think of a better way to cap off my football career.

“[The fact that it's over has] definitely set in. I've got a new challenge, but I'm also sad I'm leaving the game I love behind.”

Morgan, along with Scheper, had a huge hand in leading the East squad to a victory in the Valley Youth Conference East-West All-Star game June 15, a game that had recently been dominated by the West.

Morgan didn't play much on Friday, entering the game for several defensive sequences at free safety, in part because his practice time for the Hall of Fame game was limited by his involvement in the Valley Youth Conference game.

“It was definitely fun,” said Morgan, a 2007 All-Mission League pick. “The wins feel great.”

A trio of Glendale players, Zane Archer, Mario Cruz and Arshak Abramyan were selected to the team, but dropped out due to transportation issues pertaining to practice attendance.

Clay Sierra of Crescenta Valley was on the West roster as of game time but was a late scratch.

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