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Locals help South win O.C. All-Star Football Classic

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San Juan Hills’ Austin Hogan breaks a tackle attempt during the Orange County North vs. South All-Star Classic on Saturday.
(Photo by Drew A. Kelley)

Corona del Mar High football’s offense got much of the hype, but it was a “no-name” defense that also helped the Sea Kings to a 16-0 record, the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title and the CIF State Division 1-A championship.

A couple of key members of that defense highlighted their skills Saturday night on another big stage.

CdM linebacker and team captain Mason Gecowets had an interception in the first half to help the South team beat the North 27-13 in the 61st annual Orange County North vs. South All-Star Classic at Orange Coast College.

Sea Kings safety Zack Green also made an impact by breaking up three passes in the first half, including a deep shot to the end zone. The game turned into a defensive struggle, with five total interceptions in the first half alone compared to just three touchdowns.

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Gecowets had one of them in the second quarter, on a deflected pass near the left sideline thrown by Sunset League rival Los Alamitos quarterback Cade McConnell of the North team. Laguna Beach cornerback Jack Pigott also had an interception near the goal line on the final play of the game.

Laguna Beach quarterback Andrew Johnson was the second quarterback into the game for the South, and also played in the second half, though he completed just two passes and was intercepted once.

Edison’s Tanner Nelson, the Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year, had four tackles in the game. He also nearly intercepted a pass in the second half.

Fountain Valley receiver Blake Anderson had a pair of catches for 28 yards on the South’s opening drive of the game, which ended with a touchdown.

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The other three local members of the winning South team, Newport Harbor tackle Carter Mathisrud, CdM center Tanner Tomlinson and Edison guard Mateo Lopez, made their impact on the offensive line.

Marina, which won the CIF Southern Section Division 11 title this year for the first CIF title in program history, had a couple of late additions to the North roster. Lineman Isaia Regan and receiver/defensive back Eric Church each participated for the Vikings. Regan had a quarterback sack in the second half.

The South team, which has now won the game for six straight years, took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. San Clemente quarterback Nick Billoups scored the game’s first touchdown on a 10-yard keeper. Then, on the North’s ensuing possession, South linebacker David Meyer of Mission Viejo had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The South’s lead grew to 24-6 in the third quarter after a one-yard touchdown run by Nick Barcelos of Santa Margarita. McConnell cut into it, when he hit Esperanza’s Roshawn Lacy on a 60-yard touchdown pass with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter. But those would be the last points that the North team would score.

South kicker Richard Lopez of Mission Viejo made his second field goal, from 41 yards out, to cap the scoring with 1:03 remaining in the game.

Billoups earned MVP honors for the South, while La Habra receiver Kristopher Koontz was MVP for the North.

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