Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Football: 2018 OC All-Star Classic Preview

Seems like yesterday we were talking about the 58th annual OC All-Star Football Classic. It was played in late June like the other 57 games, but for the first time the OC All-Star Football Classic has been moved to late January.

The 59th annual OC All-Star Football Classic is being run by Costa Mesa United with it’s partnering sponsor, the Los Angeles Chargers, will be played on Jan. 27 at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa at 7 p.m. The availability opened up for a lot of the top players in the county as the summer is mainly for vacationing, relaxing and going to summer practice with your new college football team.

Jason Wilkinson of Orange. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

“One of the things has been attendance,” North coach Matt Mitchell of El Modena of Orange said. “Our attendance has been good for the most part. Even if some kids are late or can’t make it, they give us a heads up. They’re responsible in communicating with us and letting us know what’s going on.”

With availability for the top players means tough competition and the North knows that it has the edge with seven CIF-SS champions from four different schools on its roster. No one is favored, but the South is riding momentum, winning eight out of the last nine games. The North, not only wants to win this game, but it wants the tide to turn and get things rolling in the future for future North squads.

“Things happened in the past,” North DB Jason Wilkerson of Orange said. “The past doesn’t determine the future. Obviously, not working out may affect, but we are busting our behind here doing everything we have to do. Everyone is out here competing for a position since nothing is guaranteed, especially in life. Nothing is given, so you have to work for it.”

Wilkerson is used to working hard in order to earn what he wants. Wilkerson struggled through a tough childhood and went from group home to group home before finding a home near Orange High. Wilkerson attended Villa Park before transferring to Santa Ana Valley and then finally landing at Orange where he led the Panthers to their first CIF-SS title in 88 years. Hard work has definitely paid off for Wilkerson.

“It’s all about determination,” Wilkerson said. “A lot of people said I wasn’t going to be somebody or I’m not going to do anything or win anything. I love proving people wrong. I did that this season. All that talk motivated me when they said I’m not going to do it. Going through the foster system was tough when transferring to other teams and I did that a couple of times. It was different, but I knew I had to stay on track in school and sports. I had to do everything to make myself happy, make my family happy.”

Wilkerson is glad to be recognized by a coach that gave Orange something more to cheer about as El Modena also won a CIF-SS title. Mitchell knows Wilkerson has battled through a lot and is glad he is thankful for every opportunity.

“I don’t know a whole lot of Jason’s past, but he is a great kid,” Mitchell said. “He is thankful and appreciates everything that we are doing here at the All-Star game for him and he has told me that. He is appreciative of the opportunity that is in front of him. It’s a good thing for him and he deserves it.”

Wilkerson and Mitchell share the special bond of leading their city to CIF-SS titles this season, but Mitchell also gets to connect with his QB TJ McMahon of Servite of Anaheim. Mitchell was an assistant coach at Servite prior to arriving at El Modena. Connecting with a Friar is special to the coach.

TJ McMahon of Servite of Anaheim. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

“We have already talked about our bloodline at Servite,” Mitchell said with a smile. “We have shared stories of my Servite experience and his Servite experience. TJ has done great. He’s always here early and he’ll always ask questions. He only has two weeks to learn the playbook. He’s been on Hudl(.com) and he’s been looking through the playbook that we put together for the kids. He’s been almost on the professional side of it. He’s done really good.”

McMahon’s professionalism might have to do with the fact that he has a brother playing professional sports. TJ’s older brother, Ryan McMahon, played quarterback and pitcher at Mater Dei of Santa Ana. McMahon now plays baseball in the Colorado Rockies organization.

“I’ve always looked up to my brother,” the younger McMahon said. “I try to follow his lead in how he carries himself as an athlete and person. Being close in age, we have been competitive with each other since I was born. He had always tried to help me with things he experienced as an athlete, so I could be better prepared for when it was my time. He has always been supportive and wants nothing but the best for me.”

While Mitchell and his QB share connections from their Servite days, his RB will end up having a reunion with a member from the South team. Skylar Taylor of La Habra previously played at Troy of Fullerton before moving on to La Habra. His QB at Troy was Josiah Norwood, who transferred to Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita. Norwood will take the snaps at QB for the South on Saturday.

“It’s going to be fun,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait to go against him. It’s going to be a good game. I can’t wait to shut him down on Saturday.”

Skylar Taylor of La Habra. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Seeing the connections gave Taylor’s All-Star coach a chuckle, but many connections will be made at the All-Star game as Mitchell pointed out.

“I think that’s cool,” Mitchell said. “There’s something about this game and this environment that you get to be friends with guys from rivalries. We have Villa Park kids here with El Modena and Canyon kids, we have Orange Lutheran and Mater Dei kids here, La Habra and Sunny Hills with their rivalry. Everyone has been getting along and it’s been fun.”

It’s not often you get a national champion player on your team, but the North has one in DL Nathan Logoleo of Mater Dei. All-Star practices can be challenging for some as they face the best of the best, but it’s business as usual for Logoleo, who played side by side with the best of the best at Mater Dei. Easy practices are unusual and, oddly enough, difficult for one of the best defensive players in So Cal.

“It is kind of like a hard transition,” Logoleo said. “Practices are way easier now. I’m coming off tough practices. I’ve been practicing hard and now we are coming into this. It’s still cool and we are getting prepared for the game, but it’s a hard transition.”

So what will it take to shut down the South, which is led by a state champion coach Jaime Ortiz of San Clemente and QB Cooper Jones of El Toro of Lake Forest?

Nathan Lololeo of Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Photo/Manny Alvarez..

“The South team has some good players and a good coach,” McMahon said. “Playing against the top-tier teams from that area, I know it’s going to be intense from the start. For us to win, we need to make few to no mistakes, stop the run game, be physical from start to finish, (and) get the ball into our athletes hands. The big plays will come, so all I need to do is make the right read and take what they are giving me.”

With the game moving to January, get ready for some movement to some super competitive games.

Follow me on Twitter @SoCalSidelines.

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