San Benito High seniors A.J. Flores, Khader Yasin, Derek Sandoval, Abraham Solorio and Mateo Reyes played in the 36th annual Central Coast All-Star Football Game at Rabobank Stadium on Jan. 14. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Describing it as one of the best experiences he’s ever had on the football field, Khader Yasin couldn’t have asked for a better ending to his prep career on the gridiron. 

The San Benito High senior played offensive guard for the victorious Children’s Shopping Tour team in the 36th annual Central Coast All Star Game at Rabobank Stadium on Jan. 14. Coached by North Monterey County’s Juan Cuevas, Children’s Shopping Tour edged Tatum’s Tree House, 20-19. 

The teams took the names of the local charities they chose to represent. Yasin said playing in the game was one of his most fulfilling for a couple of reasons. 

“It was one helluva experience and one of the most fun moments I’ve ever had playing football,” he said. “It felt good to be out there with a lot of elite guys and it felt great to represent Hollister.”

Yasin had a lot of company in the game, which selects standout seniors from players who prep for schools in San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey and south Santa Clara counties. Fellow Haybalers to play alongside Yasin included safety/linebacker Mateo Reyes, defensive end/tight end Abraham Solorio and center/defensive end A.J. Flores. 

Another Baler, Derek Sandoval, played linebacker for Tatum’s Treehouse, which was coached by Salinas High’s Steven Zenk. Sandoval had the option to switch over to the Children’s Shopping Tour squad but turned it down, according to Yasin. 

“The other coach asked him if he wanted to be on our side, but Derek said no because he wanted to hit us,” Yasin said. 

With Yasin playing on the offensive line and Sandoval at linebacker, they were bound to collide during the game and let’s just say Yasin—who is 245 pounds and outweighs Sandoval by at least 70 pounds—got the better end of the deal on a play in the fourth quarter. 

“I told Derek if I saw him, I was going to hit him, and he would also take a clean shot at me if he had one,” Yasin said. “(San Benito) coach (Bryan) Smith and coach (Chris) Cameron told him to watch out and I got him.”

Yasin said he was zone blocking and got off his linemen to the second level where the linebackers were positioned. 

“Derek was right there and I got him,” Yasin said. “I kind of drove him to the ground and got a big pancake and we scored on that same play. I let him hear it, too. He’s one of my favorite teammates and it was probably my favorite block in the game for sure. We were joking about it afterward because we had a lot of fun. He was making plays left and right so it was great. But I found video of my block on him afterward and already sent it to him.”

Yasin felt an immense sense of pride being able to represent Hollister football one last time with some of his closest friends. He played in front of Smith and other influential coaches he’s had in his life from his days on the Hollister Rebels youth team, including coaches Jim McShane, Frank Reyes and his uncle Ali Yasin.

“I wanted to make them feel proud,” Yasin said. “Coach Smith and coach Cam and all my coaches at the Rebels who got me started when I was young, I owe them a big thanks. They all grew up with me and were the coaches who helped me develop as a man and got me here.”

Yasin was undecided on whether he was going to continue playing football after high school, but the All Star Game seemed to give him clarity. 

“I don’t think I can let go of football that easily,” he said. “I think I’ll play community college and see what happens from there.”

Whatever transpires, Yasin won’t soon forget the final time he played on the football field in high school. 

“We really went at it and the coaches said not to take it easy,” Yasin said. “We went out there wanting to win and didn’t want to lose because there were coaches, friends and the Rebels little guys watching us. The practices were fun, meeting guys from other teams was great and it was just super exciting to play one last time. It was an honor to be in that game.”

San Benito High teammates A.J. Flores (54) and Khader Yasin block during the All-Star Game. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Balers senior Mateo Reyes shares a moment with other players in the All-Star Game. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.

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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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