Salinas High football coach Steve Goodbody should feel right at home preparing for the first North-South Literacy Classic football game.
Goodbody is coaching the South — an area that includes prep players from Santa Cruz to Salinas — that is loaded in running backs.
And few schools in the southern zone section run as much as the Salinas Cowboys.
The South began practice Monday for the Literacy Classic, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 26 at San Jose City College. They’ll face a North team coached by Valley Christian’s Mike Machado that has some of the top players from the San Jose area.
The South features such running backs as the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Player of the Year, Fabiano Hale of Soquel; the Monterey Bay League’s Most Valuable Player in scrambling quarterback Jimmy Hill of Monterey, rugged Ambrose Chioini of Monterey, along with Marcus Washington of Palma and Rufino Calderon of North County.
But fear not, Goodbody isn’t going to let a group of good receivers go to waste, led by co-MVP of the Monterey Bay Pacific Division, Joseph Jakubowsky.
“We’ve got pass plays,” he said. “We’re going to line up in the spread formation and throw the ball, too.”
Showing up for the South team meeting Monday was Seaside quarterback Michael Turner, the Salinas Californian’s Player of the Year.
“We had a few subtractions and additions to the roster,” Goodbody said. “We want to get everyone on the same page and play at a high tempo.”
About 30 players showed up for the first practice Monday, said Goodbody, and they met again Tuesday at Salinas High. The team will practice Friday at Soquel High, the home field of Hale.
The 6-1, 210-pound Hale had one of the most spectacular seasons in SCCAL history in 2012.
He rushed for a Santa Cruz County record 2,452 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Chioini and Hill combined for more than 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, Washington had 11 rushing touchdowns while Calderon ran for nearly 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Turner finished his senior year in style by quarterbacking the Spartans to an unbeaten regular season. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns .
Jakubowsky did a lot of everything for Seaside. He led the team in catches with 37 for 563 yards, rushed for 155 yards and five touchdowns and even though he was used sparingly as a quarterback, still managed to complete 11 of 13 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns.
“All these players are intelligent, and we’ve been able to move things along pretty quickly,” Goodbody said. “This is going to be fun. This game is going to be a showcase for the team. Everyone is going to have a chance to show their talent and maybe move on and play down the road.”
Players will wear their school helmets but will all wear the same jersey.