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Johnson, Van Tuinen & Rodriguez to suit up for North team in Rotary All-Star Classic
CUSD products to showcase skills on Friday in Merced
Nick Van Tuinen, a 2013 Central Valley grad, will play in the North/South Rotary All-Star Football Game on Friday at Golden Valley High School. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Recent Ceres Unified School District graduates Caden Johnson, Nick Van Tuinen and Marcus Rodriguez will compete in the 28th Annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football Classic this Friday at Veterans Stadium in Merced.

Johnson (Ceres High), Van Tuinen (Central Valley) and Rodriguez (Central Valley) will suit up for the North squad.

They'll team up with players from Atwater, Buhach Colony, Central Catholic, Denair, Escalon, Golden Valley, Gustine, Hilmar, LeGrand, Livingston, Los Banos, Mariposa, Merced, Modesto Christian, Oakdale, Orestimba, Pacheco, Patterson, Pitman, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Riverbank, Turlock, Turlock Christian and Waterford.

The South team's roster features players from Caruthers, Central, Chowchilla, Coalinga, Dos Palos, Firebaugh, Fowler, Fresno, Hoover, Immanuel, Kerman, Kingsburg, Liberty, Madera, Madera South, Mendota, Parlier, Reedley, Roosevelt, Sanger, Selma, Sierra, SJ Memorial, Sunnyside, Tranquility, Washington and Yosemite.

"We got a pretty strong team," Van Tuinen said. "I'm sure they got a lot of good people, too. It's an all-star game. It should be competitive."

Nick was a two-year starter on Central Valley's varsity football team.

The standout linebacker/defensive end had 70 tackles, five sacks, five quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery during his final season with the Hawks, who compiled a 5-5 overall record, finished 2-4 in the Western Athletic Conference and fell one win shy of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time.
Van Tuinen earned second-team, all-conference honors.

He will not play football at the college level. Nick will attend Modesto JC. He wants to become a fireman.

"I got a few offers to play football in college," he said. "But I got to get a good job. It's sad to think about. I'm going to miss being able to hear my name over the loudspeaker. I love making tackles and hitting people. That's what I do. But I'm lucky to have this game. I got to make the best of it."

Rodriguez (OL/DL) started at the varsity level for three seasons.

He was named to the WAC Second Team following a stellar senior campaign.

Marcus registered 64 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

He'll continue his football career at Modesto JC.
"I haven't been on the field in a while," Rodriguez said. "But I've been working in the gym and running every day. I get another chance to play and go hard. I'm going to give it my all."

Johnson played football at the varsity level for two years.

Caden was voted to the WAC First Team this past season.

He caught 67 passes for 876 yards and seven touchdowns as the Bulldogs posted a 2-8 overall record and had an 0-6 mark in WAC play.

Johnson earned a partial scholarship to Southern Oregon University.

Caden, Nick, Marcus and their North teammates practiced Monday through Wednesday at Atwater High School.

The North will try to beat the South for the fifth time in seven years.

Kickoff slated for 7:45 p.m. at Golden Valley High School.
"We (Nick and I) were on the same defense," Marcus said. "We sacked the quarterback and caused fumbles. We know how each other plays."

"One of my goals was to play in this game," Van Tuinen stated. "It means that I had a successful season. It's big competition. I'm excited. Physically, I feel ready. I've been active. We definitely want to win. A storybook ending for me would be a defensive touchdown."

"It's a perfect way to end my high-school career," Johnson added. "I'm sure it will be a great experience."