COSTA MESA — No one heard the national anthem play before the Orange County All-Star Football Game.
No one heard the public address announcer introduce the 70 recent graduates playing in their final high school game.
The public address system was out of order Friday night at Orange Coast College.
One player the crowd heard loud and clear was Costa Mesa High guard Travis Whitlock. He lost his helmet on the field in the process.
Whitlock paved the way for the game's first touchdown. From six yards out, Whitlock opened up a huge hole on the left side for Trabuco Hills running back Shane DeCillo to run through and find the end zone for the South All-Stars.
The South jumped out to a 12-point lead and it took advantage of miscues on special teams to hold on and beat the North, 24-21, in front of an estimated crowd of 6,500.
Whitlock was one of two Newport-Mesa players on the South team. Whitlock started on offense and Corona del Mar's Alex Swigert rotated in and out at linebacker.
Swigert helped the South stuff the North's ground game. Not much worked for the North in the first three quarters.
When it tried to punt, the South blocked two punts, one that led to a touchdown in the first quarter, and then saw the opposing punter mishandle a snap that went into the back of the end zone for a safety late in the third quarter.
The safety was the second of two against the North.
The first came late in the opening quarter, when North kick returner Damani Wilson decided to take the ball out of the end zone, only to return and kneel.
Take away the four points from the safety calls and the North wins by one.
The North tried to rally at the end. Trailing 22-7 early in the third quarter, the North stormed back and made it a field-goal game in the final quarter.
Rancho Alamitos quarterback Mike Frank threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Garden Grove's Sean Young with 8:16 to go. The grab was Young's first catch.
The North decided to go for a two-point conversion. In came Kennedy's Andy Peterson to replace Frank at quarterback. From shotgun, Peterson faked the handoff and ran to his left to convert the two-point play and cut North's deficit to 24-21.
Starting from its own six, the South did more than stay out of trouble. It kept the ball away from the North, chewing off 7:38 off the clock.
Whitlock was a big reason why the offense stayed on the field. The 6-foot-2, 270-pounder protected Edison quarterback Matt Viles and allowed DeCillo to break off an 18-yard run.
Viles did the rest, completing crucial passes that resulted in moving the chains. Viles went four of five on the drive, which eventually stalled near midfield.
When Viles walked off the field, he finished 11 of 13 for 98 yards and one touchdown. He earned the game's offensive MVP award.
With only 39 seconds left, the South punted and pinned the North inside its own 20-yard line. With the North out of timeouts, the South was on its way to claiming the All-Star game for the second straight year.
"I felt like I played to my actual potential and played my best game of my career," said Whitlock, who plans to play for Orange Coast College this fall. "I felt comfortable if they ran behind me. I felt like I was dominating most of the game. [The defensive lineman in front of me] got me a couple of times.
"When he pushed my hand up in my face and popped off [my helmet], I still pancaked him to the ground."
The block was so devastating that fans stood up and cheered No. 68, who lifted his arms and roared.