O.C. All-Star Game: Five South players to watch


With the O.C. All-Star Game officially one week away, we caught up with South coach Ernie Boucher and picked his mind on some of the players who have caught his eye the past few weeks.

Here are five of the guys the Capistrano Valley coach pointed out after the team’s first full-contact practice Wednesday morning.

Conner Bianchini, Santa Margarita, Wide receiver

The Eagles 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver is one of the most physically-imposing players on the South’s roster. He looks like a college player out on the field, and he’s shown why he’ll continue playing at Lehigh in the fall. “He’s the real deal,” South coach Ernie Bucher said. As a senior, Bianchini grabbed 69 passes for 909 yards and eight touchdowns earning him 2nd Team All-CIF honors. In the South’s up-tempo, spread attack, Bianchini should get the ball out in space, making him a hassle to bring down for the smaller defensive backs. He’s got to be considered one of the South’s best redzone options because of his size and ability to snatch the ball at its highest point.  

Zach Hickman, Tesoro, Offensive lineman

In a game where team chemistry is rushed to a certain extent, miscues are more common, especially on the offensive side of the football. As coach Bucher pointed out at practice this week, the team who protects the football best and gives its quarterback more time to throw will likely come out on top next Thursday. Offensive line play is under the microscope as a result, and Hickman leads a South group that has plenty up size up front. “I’m an offensive line guy, so a guy like Zach Hickman sticks out right away,” Bucher said of the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder. “You can see why he’s a first-team all-county offensive lineman.” If Hickman and his line mates can give Gavin Pruett and Brian Abel time in the pocket, the two South signal callers should have a fair amount of success with an ample weapons on the outside.

Hojun Lee, Huntington Beach, Defensive lineman

The Oilers defensive end played in just three games as a senior, suffering a knee injury three games into the 2014 campaign. Lee finished with seven sacks as a junior, as was considered one of the top rush ends the county had to offer before his injury. “He’s back playing that high school football game he didn’t get to play his senior year,” Bucher said. “He’s got some drive, and he’s definitely a player.” With a second chance to properly close out his high school career, you won’t see another player give more of an effort next Thursday than Lee.

Gavin Pruett, Capistrano Valley, Quarterback

After impressing at the 605 All-Star game early last month, Pruett figures to have even more success next week as the South will run Capo Valley’s up-tempo attack. “It makes everything easier just because we don’t have to teach him anything,” Bucher said of Pruett, who passed for 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in the fall. A quick decision-maker who also completed 61-percent of his passes, Pruett has some of the county’s top playmakers at his disposal. 

Manase Time, Edison, Linebacker

He’s not the biggest guy in the world (listed at 6-foot, 200-pounds), but over the last two seasons, no one has played with a better motor than Time. The Sunset League’s two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year was all over the field at practice Wednesday morning, laying a few jarring open-field hits. “We’re playing him at linebacker because that’s his college position,” Bucher said of Time, who spent time at defensive end at Edison. “The kid is physical. Helovesthe contact, and that’s fun to be around.” 

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