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O.C. All-Star notes: Players put rivalries aside, become friends
The players on the South All-Star team say they have been getting along despite heated rivalries on the field in the past.
Fountain Valley defensive lineman Keiti Iakopo said he has enjoyed competing against some of his Sunset League rivals every night in practice for the Brea Lions Orange County All-Star Game on Friday at Orange Coast College.
“It’s so funny going against these guys again," Iakopo said. "During the season, we would always talk smack, but it is all friendly. Out here, it’s fun to mess around and have fun."
Capistrano Valley's Tyler Waggoner said he has become comfortable taking handoffs and catching passes from one of his rivals from the Sea View League, quarterback Nick Chapman of Aliso Niguel.
“I always knew that Chapman name, and I hated him the past three years," Waggoner said. "I would watch him run to the sidelines and whenever I got close enough, I would yell stuff at him.
“Getting to know him now, he’s an amazing person and we have a bond. That’s what I love about this team.”
Iakopo said he was sad to see the all-star experience wind down.
“It’s depressing we didn’t get to meet sooner. They are all great guys,” Iakopo said. “It’s crazy thinking about life without these guys, and I wish I got to play with them longer.”
The South held its last practice in pads Wednesday night at Laguna Hills High.
“We’re trying to be real crisp, but we had a couple of kids not here who are in key spots, so it gets chaotic,” South coach Mike Maceranka said.
Despite the short time together, the players have learned much of the system Maceranka runs.
“Pretty much all the teams out here run zone concepts," Maceranka said. "As long as they understand where the ball is going, it’s what they’ve been doing for the last three or four years.”
The Pacific Coast League is the most represented league for the South with eight players on the roster.
The Sea View League, as it was composed last season, has the second most players with seven.
The two leagues are the only leagues with a player from each school in the league on the team.
Waggoner was a first-team All-Sea View League running back in 2015. He enjoys seeing the Sea View League well represented in this game.
“The Sea View League is competitive," he said. "There are a lot of rivalries, and the players are a little more on each other. League games are a different kind of game.”
Maceranka is entering his first season at Laguna Hills, which plays in the Sea View League.
“It’s a big step up. The talent level is a step up, so my coaching staff and I need to step up as well,” Maceranka said.