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Chargers fans hold rally in Costa Mesa ahead of playoff opener

Fans voice their support as Los Angeles Chargers players arrive at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning.
Fans voice their support as Los Angeles Chargers players arrive at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning to depart for a wild card playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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For the first time in four seasons, the Los Angeles Chargers will compete in the NFL playoffs, and that has their fan base energized.

A few hundred fans gathered outside Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning, hoping to see their favorite players and wish them well before they begin the postseason with an AFC wild card round game on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday at 5:15 p.m.

Fans show their support as Los Angeles Chargers players arrive at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday.
Fans show their support as Los Angeles Chargers players arrive at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning to depart for a wild card playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Kayli Phan of Westminster said being a Charger fan was something she was born into. She was at the send-off event with family, including her sister, Abbigail, who helped her make a poster playing off the phrase, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” with a drawing of a jaguar served on a platter.

The Chargers lost to the AFC South champion Jaguars 38-10 in their Week 3 matchup at SoFi Stadium, but Kayli and others hope their team can turn the tables. It is a highly-anticipated rematch with the quarterbacks — Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence — making their playoff debuts. Los Angeles earned the AFC’s fifth seed with a 10-7 record this season.

Defensive end Breiden Fehoko, right, greets fans at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“We just came out here to support our Bolts and Blue,” Kayli said. “You got to support them with all we can. We’re going to make it to the Super Bowl. I know it.”

Asked how she got out of her regular obligations, she replied, “I was feeling a little sick this morning.”

Quarterback Justin Herbert walks onto the first bus at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning.
Quarterback Justin Herbert walks onto the first bus at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning to depart for a wild card playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Clad in their powder blue team gear, the fans gathered on both sides of a street, cheering enthusiastically as the players arrived in their cars. Most of the crowd had arrived by 7:30 a.m., and they stayed until the team buses departed some 90 minutes later.

Star wide receiver Keenan Allen walked through the entry alley to a chorus of fans chanting his name. Wide receiver DeAndre Carter and defensive end Breiden Fehoko made the rounds to greet and high-five those in attendance.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, right, greets fans at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Chargers have used the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa as their headquarters since the team moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017. Fans of the team have traveled to Orange County to take in preseason practices, as the team has held training camp at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex.

The team is currently in the process of building a new headquarters and training facility in El Segundo.

Guillermo Sandoval, 42, of Long Beach, bearing a flag that towered over the proceedings, said he became a fan of the Chargers when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a Marine. While he misses the drives to San Diego, he feels the fan base is growing.

“We’re growing and growing, which is a good thing,” Sandoval said. “We not only want more fans. We want more groups, too. More groups means more watch parties.”

Guillermo Sandoval, 42, of Long Beach runs with his Chargers flag as players arrive in Costa Mesa.
Guillermo Sandoval, 42, of Long Beach runs with his Chargers flag as players arrive at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa on Friday morning.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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