YAKIMA - Former Grandview football teammates Brandon Artz and James Vela play their last game together this Saturday in the Earl Barden 1A/2A All-Star Classic football game matching East versus West.
Artz, a quarterback, and Vela, a wide receiver, earned their spots on the East squad with a 2005-06 football campaign that saw them each garner all-state honors while leading Grandview to its first ever State playoff football win on the way to the State 2A quarterfinals.
The contest is not only a finale for Vela and Artz as a football tandem, it also has brought opponents together as teammates to battle the West all stars.
"It was kind of weird at the start of practice," Artz said in a phone interview. "There are guys from Connell and Othello on the team who used to line up across from me. Now they're protecting me. It's a good feeling to have them on my team, they're quality athletes."
Artz will get the start at quarterback and, just as he as done for the past four years, Vela will line up at wide receiver.
"It's very important," Artz said of having Vela's familiar face-and sure hands-in the secondary. "We've had the chemistry over the past four years."
Yet Artz knows he needs to be careful.
"I don't want to favor him (Vela) because the other receivers are talented athletes," Artz said. "I'll spread it around."
Saturday's all-star contest is not only a chance to celebrate a successful season and play among the best of 1A/2A football athletes, but also an opportunity to prepare for the future.
Vela is headed to the University of Washington where he will try out as a walk-on with the Husky football team.
Artz will play quarterback at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
"Right now I'm seeing where I am and using this (the all star game) as a basis to learn what I can do to get better to compete with guys of this caliber," Artz said.
This Saturday's contest will be played at 1 p.m. at Zaepfel Stadium in Yakima.