Above: Duarte football players Desmond Hayes, Durriae Williams and Tim Starr practice at Alhambra High School in Alhambra. This will be their final game as teammates.
By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
ALHAMBRA – Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl at Whittier College (7 p.m.) between former high school football players from Los Angeles County against a group from the Inland Empire will be a farewell game of sorts. It will not only be the final high school game for Duarte’s Durriae Williams, Tim Starr and Desmond Hayes, but it will also be their last as teammates.
Starr, one of the area’s best offensive linemen, will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall, while Williams, a receiver, and Hayes, a defensive back, will play at Southern California junior college stalwart Fullerton.
For that reason, the trio, which helped Duarte to one of its better stretches in school history with one league title and a CIF-Southern Section semifinal appearance in 2006 and playoff appearances the past two years, is treating this as more than just another high school all- star game.
The third-year game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Whittier College.
“It’s special to us,” said Hayes prior to a practice at Alhambra High School. “It just means a lot for us three to play in an all-star game.
“I would never had thought I would play in an all-star game, but I performed well this past season. It feels good to be out here with these guys.
“Tim and I have been thinking about winning a championship since we were freshman, and coach (Wardell Crutchfield) always considered us, our (2009) class, his dynasty, because we helped build the program. It started with us.
“It’s going to be hard to leave Tim, with Durriae and I playing at Fullerton next year. But it’s hard to see the big guy go.”
Adding to the significance of taking the football field together one last time is the situation that transpired at Duarte following the season.
Crutchfield, who transformed the Falcons into one of the area’s most consistent programs over the past four seasons, was fired – signalling, in the players’ minds, the end of an era.
“It’s been great playing with them for four years,” said Starr, whose efforts up front helped pave the the way for Duarte averaging more than 28 points per game last season. “To play with them one last time is icing on the cake and allows us to go out on top. It’s an honor to play with them. We deserved to play in this game.
“With coach Crutch, and the three of us, we started a tradition. It’s tough to see coach Crutch gone and all, and it hurts. What we worked for and what we started is gone. They just wiped it out. It’s tough. It hurts me, but I’m moving on.”
Williams and Hayes are expecting big things at Fullerton, which advanced to the second round of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs last season.
Williams, a double threat, accounted for nearly 1,500 yards last season, while Hayes averaged 18 yards per catch last season. He also had three interceptions.
“We’re going to give everyone the double whammy,” Williams said. “Des and I have to do what we have to do.”
But first they have one last high school game, against the Inland Empire stars, that Hayes is looking forward to.
“I have a lot of friends (in the Inland Empire),” Hayes said. “It’s going to be fun. This is a dream come true to me.”
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