COSTA MESA — Six local football players capped their high school careers as winners.
The six played a part in helping the South All-Stars beat the North, 32-21, in the 53rd Brea Lions Orange County All-Star Football Game at Orange Coast College on Friday night.
Recent graduates from the four Newport-Mesa Unified School District high schools joined forces. Newport Harbor's Titus Hasson played safety and Steve Michaelsen on the defensive line. Estancia's Alipa Peters started at defensive tackle and Zach Bateman at left tackle.
Costa Mesa's Mario Smith saw time at running back and on punt returns, while Corona del Mar's Josh Giger lined up at wide receiver.
Peters made the first impact of the six. He stuffed a run at the line of scrimmage, putting the North in a third-and-long situation. The North was forced to punt on its first possession and it made sure not to kick the ball to the speedy Smith.
When the South took over on offense, Bateman gave his quarterback, Edison's Chase Favreau, plenty of time to throw. With Smith in the backfield, Favreau rolled to his left, his throwing side. He hit Fountain Valley wide receiver Sean Myers on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Sixty-six seconds later, Favreau went back to work, thanks to a former Sunset League rival. Hasson, the All-Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year, intercepted a pass near the red zone, before falling down.
Hasson, who's bound for Fullerton College, played a vital role to the South's defense stopping the North for much of the first half.
Michaelsen, who shared the Sunset League Defensive Lineman of the Year award, harassed both of the North quarterbacks, Blair Boyce of Villa Park and Mark Tumlinson of Esperanza. Michaelsen didn't record a sack in the first two quarters, but he, Hasson, Peters and the rest of the defense almost shut out the North in the first half.
The North scored with 20 seconds left and it went into halftime down, 26-7. The South came up with the big plays.
Buzzy Yokoyama finished the one with the most buzz.
Yokoyama, a former Newport Harbor standout who transferred to Mission Viejo before his senior year, took part in a hook-and-lateral play. After Myers hauled in an 18-yard pass from quarterback Northwood quarterback Ricky Bautista, Myers lateraled the ball at the North's 34 to Yokoyama, who caught the ball in stride and raced down the South sideline for a touchdown.
The South took a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter. The only thing it couldn't get right was the extra-point attempt. The North blocked the PAT, one of four the South tried.
The one time the North didn't get to block the kick it was because the South went for a two-point conversion instead. The attempt came right after Favreau threw his second touchdown pass. On the two-point try, he connected with Yokoyama on a pass.
Yokoyama almost dazzled the crowd again early in the second half.
Yokoyama's former teammate, Michaelsen, helped get the ball to the offense. Michaelsen finally sacked the quarterback, forcing the North to punt on its first second-half possession.
On the South's third play on offense, Yokoyama broke off what seemed to be a 55-yard touchdown run. He went left, before cutting back and outrunning defenders to the pylon. But a holding penalty on the South nullified the long touchdown run.
The South went on to score a touchdown 11 plays later, giving it a 32-7 lead. It was more than enough.
The North couldn't get much going in the third quarter. Peters, who shared the Orange Coast League Defensive Player of the Year award, forced a fumble and sacked the quarterback on consecutive plays.
When it looked as though Cypress' Vincent Rivera was about to hit a home run for the North on a kickoff return early in the fourth, there was Hasson. He tackled Rivera on the North's 31, not allowing him to break outside to the South sideline for a potential touchdown.
Smith almost found the end zone with less than five minutes left to play. The Orange Coast League MVP was a touchdown-scoring machine for Costa Mesa, finishing with a school-best 30 in his only season at the school.
Smith appeared to score on a one-yard toss to the left, but a holding call brought back the play.
Smith, who's bound for Southwestern Oklahoma State University, couldn't believe it.
Smith, who led the South with 47 yards on 10 carries, didn't get the touchdown, but he went out a winner.