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All-Star notes: Iakopo surprised by MVP honor

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

COSTA MESA – Fountain Valley defensive tackle Keiti Iakopo was named defensive MVP of the O.C. All-Star Football Game on Friday because, unfortunately, it couldn't be awarded to an entire unit.

The South’s front seven plugged up the North’s run game and constantly chased North quarterback Jack Telenko (Los Alamitos) out of the backfield.

Iakopo made his claim to the award early by recovering a fumble on the game’s opening drive. The fumble recovery set up the South’s opening touchdown.

“It’s surprising,” Iakopo said of the award. “It’s crazy. Great feeling though.”

Iakopo had two tackles, including one for loss, but all of that happened in the first half.

“I really think 96, Chris Evagues, should have gotten it,” Iakopo said. “He balled out. He played his heart out.”

Evagues (Tesoro) was also in the running early with two tackles, both sacks, in the first half.

If you asked Iakopo, the voting was held too early, as Evagues closed the game hard with two more sacks late in the fourth quarter. He could have had five in the game, but was called for a penalty for continuing play without his helmet.

“They weren’t picking up on any of our stunts,” Evagues said. “We just kept hitting them with that. Then just hustled and beat them out throughout the whole game. They just really couldn’t stop us.”

Included in that “us” was a stout corps of linebackers that continually shut down the North’s run attempts.

“The front just set the tone,” South coach Mike Maceranka (Laguna Hills) said. “Our linebackers are just nails. They can go sideline to sideline.”

Sam Warren (Laguna Hills) led the South with seven tackles and was followed closely by defensive captain Kyle Adams (JSerra) who added six tackles including a sack. Tim Newman (San Juan Hills) rounded out the group with four tackles including a sack.

PROSPECTIVE NORTH MVP

Another late push for defensive MVP came from the North.

Servite linebacker Conner Airey recovered a fumble and took it to the end zone for a touchdown to cut the South’s lead to seven points with just under eight minutes remaining.

Had the North’s offense not run into the South’s defense, Airey would have been a lock for the defensive award with six tackles, two for loss and a sack.

JUST FOR KICKS

Offensive MVP could have gone several ways.

Neil Boudreau (University), who is going to San Diego State as a punter, proved he can quarterback in a big-time atmosphere. Boudreau went 7 of 10 passing for 196 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

David Molina (Saddleback Valley Christian) proved even small players from small schools can shine under the lights with five receptions for 94 yards.

Even in a losing effort, Telenko still managed 186 yards passing with 97 yards going to Aaron Simpson (Servite).

But the leg of Hayden McGinnis (Tesoro) won the day - and the offensive MVP honor. 

“When we’re picking the team, we had to have a great kicker,” Maceranka said. “And that’s really the difference. Every time they started getting close, we had a kicker that could put one through. Especially with no rush, it’s fantastic.”

McGinnis was perfect on his three field goals and four extra points.

The North’s Elias Deeb (Mater Dei) did not convert any of his three attempts - two extra points and one field goal.

ADDITIONAL CAPTAINS

Each team had selected four captains prior to the game, but six captains went out for the opening coin flip on each side.

Iakopo and Nick Chapman (Aliso Niguel) joined Kristian Crabb (Huntington Beach), Newman, Adams and Boudreau for the South.

Telenko and Zach Arnold (Brea Olinda) walked out with Airey, Jacob Fimbres (Sonora), Matthew O’Donoghue (Foothill) and Kapono Laguisan (Mater Dei) for the North.

OVERHEARD ON THE SIDELINES

Early in the third quarter, Kent Swift (Fountain Valley) told someone on the South sideline, “(Receiver Jason) Lee (Mission Viejo) will burn this dude.”

Roughly 10 seconds later, Lee was running down the sideline with ball in hand for a nearly 70-yard play as his defender fell behind him.

No confirmation on Swift’s lottery numbers.

IN NEED OF A TAILOR

Both teams wore new uniforms for the game. 

The North wore black jerseys with white side panels that fit pretty well on every player. The South wore an inverted white jersey with black panels and no one’s jersey seemed to fit. 

Each South jersey looked almost two sizes too big as players tucked the extra slack into their shoulder pads, tied it in knots or let it hang to their knees.

So, yes, the black was definitely more slimming.


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