Malibu High Sharks football players Dovid Rabinowitz and Tee Barnes had two of the more exciting plays in the 46th annual Ventura County High School All-Star Football Game on Jan. 19 at Ventura College.
The 12th graders suited up for the contest’s East All-Stars, which lost to the West All-Stars, 35-24.
Rabinowitz, an 18-year-old, 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman, blocked a punt in the second quarter, and Barnes, a 17-year-old quarterback, tossed a touchdown pass in the game’s closing minutes. Rabinowitz’s defensive play earned him the East’s defensive player of the game award.
Rabinowitz, a football player of only two years who hopes to play the game in college, said it felt good to stand out during the all-star matchup, even though his play resulted in him sometimes being double-teamed by West offensive linemen.
“All the hard work paid off,” he said. “I’m proud of my performance. I’m bummed that we didn’t win.”
Rabinowitz’s award-wining play happened almost seven minutes before halftime and led to the game’s first score. The lineman and his white and blue-clad East teammates pinned the West offense deep into their own territory. On the fourth-down punt attempt, Rabinowitz broke through the middle of the West’s offensive line and knocked the football out of the air just after it left the foot of the punter. An East player recovered the ball, and on the next play the East scored a touchdown.
Rabinowitz’s only thought while propelling himself at the punter was to not hit the player and draw a penalty.
“I just tried to push through and make it through that line,” said the 6-foot-5, 265-pound player.
Barnes shared time at quarterback with two other players in the contest and spent a lot of time avoiding a bevy of West defenders that jolted through the East offensive line. He had several successive pass completions in the second quarter, but his breakout play didn’t happen until less than two minutes were left in the fourth quarter. The quarterback looked to his right and threw a pass over 20 yards to Terrell Vaughn, a wide receiver from Westlake, who was streaking into the end zone.
Barnes said throwing a touchdown felt great.
“Our team was down, but it was nice to have a last-second touchdown to put some points on the board,” he said.
Barnes wished he had a better overall performance.
“I was hoping for more time and protection, but I made it work,” he said. “It was still pretty fun.”
Each year, the contest pits some of the best high school football talent from the eastern and western parts of Ventura County against each other. The Malibu pair were selected for the annual all-star showcase in late December after their standout seasons for the Sharks football team ended.
The East was coached by a group from Fillmore. The roster was composed of players from Agoura, Fillmore, Oak Park, Oaks Christian, Royal, Simi Valley, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and Westlake.
The West roster was led by Oxnard coaches and included players from Adolfo Camarillo, Buena, Channel Islands, Hueneme, Oxnard, Pacifica, Santa Clara, St. Bonaventure, Rio Mesa and Ventura.
The East All-Stars practiced this month in Thousand Oaks leading up to last Saturday’s contest. Barnes and Rabinowitz rode to the training sessions together.
“We spent more time together riding in the car than actual practice,” Barnes said.
Barnes and Rabinowitz said some of their teammates were shocked that football players from Malibu were selected for the all-star game because of the school’s lack of football recognition.
“It was weird because no one knew where we were from at first, and they saw that we were pretty good,” said Barnes. “We told them we were from Malibu. They were really shocked and surprised.”
Rabinowitz said his starting on the defensive line for the East, and Barnes being the team’s starting quarterback shows good football players can come from Malibu. Additionally, after an injury to a teammate, Rabinowitz ended up playing center on the offensive line in the contest’s second half. In fact, he snapped the ball to Barnes before the signal caller tossed his touchdown pass.
“Playing offense, defense—the coaches just threw me around,” he said. “Of all people to do it, I’m a Malibu kid. It’s pretty surprising to some people.”
Both players are glad they had the chance to play in one more high school football game.
“Both of us got acknowledged for all the hard work we put in,” Barnes said. “It was nice to represent the Malibu community here.”
“To be able to play one last game where all the players are the top players from different schools was phenomenal,” said Rabinowitz.