The first-ever Inland Valley Football Classic was very meaningful for all the senior players who were chosen to participate, but it was an especially thrilling event for Freddy Livai and James Hansen.
Livai, a defensive standout from Fontana A.B. Miller High School, and Hansen, a powerful offensive lineman from Kaiser High School, are cousins, and this game marked the first time that they had a chance to be on the football field at the same time during their prep careers.
Hansen and Livai both played well in helping the Eastern San Bernardino County all-stars rally for an exciting 25-21 win over the Western all-stars, and afterward they heaped praise on each other.
"I'm really grateful for my cousin -- he's a big influence in my life," Livai said.
Hansen was equally proud of Livai and his success: "He shows me that hard work does pay off."
They both were honored to be part of the historic all-star game, which was played at Livai's home field at Miller.
The game was a "real good success," Livai said, adding that all his teammates and coaches had a role in helping the Eastern squad come from behind in the second half.
"We pushed to the end, and like that saying goes, 'Fourth quarter always wins games,'" Livai said.
Hansen said he was grateful for the opportunity to show his skills, and he praised all the competitors on both sides.
"Both teams came out physical and smart," he said.
During the 2015 regular season, Livai was the second-leading tackler for Miller, making 30 solo tackles and 38 assists. He also had six sacks.
Hansen, meanwhile, was superb at helping to open holes for Kaiser's running backs during the fall campaign. He cleared the way for Joshua Johnson to gain 2,118 yards and for Tyler Allgeier to accumulate 981 yards.
Livai has already made a verbal commitment to accept a scholarship from BYU.
"BYU has always been my dream school to go to after high school," he said.
Hansen, meanwhile, is considering various colleges but said he has not yet decided which one he will choose.
The all-star game was certainly a high point for them in high school, but they both have the potential to have many more great moments when they begin college competition this fall.