May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: South all-stars start fast and top North 27-13; extend winning streak to six

The South all-stars celebrate after Saturday’s victory over the North. (Photos courtesy Mark Bausman, For OC Sports Zone)

It was the South all-stars turn to shine again Saturday night in the 61st Annual North-South All-Star Football Classic at Orange Coast College.

The South jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and went on to defeat the North 27-13 in front of an estimated 5,500 fans.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

The South has won the last six all-star games and now leads the series 30-26 with three ties.

The South got a strong effort from quarterback Nick Billoups from San Clemente, who was named his team’s player of the game. Billoups scored the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard TD run midway through the first quarter. He wound up with 133 yards rushing and 39 yards passing.

“You could only run man (defense) so I knew once I broke loose from the pocket, I was going to be in the end zone, it was a great play,” Billoups said. “It means a lot, personally I didn’t get to finish my season off on a good ending so this is a good way to end my senior year with a win. I’m happy for the guys, happy for the South, this was a good game.”

Mission Viejo linebacker David Meyer then put the South ahead 14-0 when he interecepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

“It was a three-step drop, I knew it was going to be a quick pass so I just broke on the ball and it ended up in my hands and it was all end zone from there,” said Meyer, who plans to play at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo next year. “I’m really happy, and playing with these guys in our league, it was fun.”

It was one of four interceptions by the South defense. Mason DeCowets (Corona del Mar), Reece Bailey (Mission Viejo) and Jack Pigott (Laguna Beach) also had interceptions.

The North got on the scoreboard later in the quarter when McConnell from Los Alamitos scored on a 1-yard run. But the South countered with a 31-yard field goal by Richard Lopez of Mission Viejo, the first of two for him on the night, to move ahead 17-6.

The South extended its lead to 24-6 when Nick Barcelos of Santa Margarita scored from one yard out with 4:34 left in the third quarter. Barcelos rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries.

The North got back into the game when McConnell connected with Roshawn Lacy of Esperanza on a 60-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 24-13 later in the quarter but Lopez second field goal late in the final quarter sealed the win for the South.

But North Coach Dan Davidson from Western was proud to lead his squad.

“It was an honor to be part of this game,” Davidson said. “There was a big crowd and I had a lot of fun coaching it. They were wonderful kids.”

La Habra wide receiver Kristopher Koontz, who had seven catches for 112 yards, was named the North’s player of the game.

“I’m very happy that Kris Koontz got MVP for the North side,” Davidson said. “I thought (quarterbacks) Cade (McConnell, Los Alamitos) and Luke (Duxbury, Sunny Hills) learning the offense in such a short time (stood out) and we went no huddle and I was really proud of both sides really.”

McConnell passed for 279 yards and also had a rushing TD.

But the South had a tough running and passing game and was able to force four turnovers.

“I really felt we did a really good job defensively for the most part. But that quarterback made it tough, he can scoot a little bit.”

The South standouts also included Northwood lineman Xavier Cousar, who was excited to get the victory.

“It was definitely one of the better experiences I’ve had,” Cousar said. “I wish we had a little bit more time because I came so close to those sacks. But overall, it was just a great team win. I’ve been practicing with these guys over these last two weeks and it was a great experience you can’t get back. I know for a fact (he had) three tackles for a loss and I believe five QB hits, and almost closs to a sack.”

Portola was represented by offensive lineman Samuel Gatta, who was cheered on by about 45 members of the Bulldogs football team and Coach Peter Abe.

The North squad also got a solid effort from Orange High defensive back Andrew Andrade, who was in on four tackles.

“It was a great experience,” Andrade said. “Together as a team, we’re the best in Orange County and you can’t ask for more. During practice we did nothing but compete and got ourselves better and you can’t ask for nothing more than that.

“I’m proud of my teammates and proud of how we did. Although the scoreboard says different, I’m still proud of my boys and we’re brothers until the end.”

Andrade, an outstanding receiver with the Panthers, also lined up twice on offense, but did not catch a pass.

“Looking back, I’m very happy with my outcome,” Andrade said. “I’m very happy how my high school team did and came out here with the all-star game making new experiences and friends and I will remember this for a lifetime.”

Andrade said he is not yet sure where he will play next year but expects to make a decision soon.

Chad Johnson of Mission Viejo coached the South team.

The game featured no kick-offs as teams took the ball on their own 30-yard line after scores. No rushes were allowed on point afters and field goals. There were also very few timeouts and the fans seem to be entertained.

The game was presented by Costa Mesa United and sponsored by the Los Angeles Chargers.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com