The North’s 34-17 win in Thursday’s Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Game at Westmont High marked the squad’s first victory over the South since 2014, and four local football players helped make it happen.
Los Altos High linebacker Miguel Tepepa and Mountain View High safety Danny Olsen contributed to a defense that held the South scoreless for the first and fourth quarters of the 45th annual showcase for the county’s top graduated seniors. On the other side of the ball, Los Altos’ Tyler St. Laurent and St. Francis’ Matthew Azzopardi played on an offensive line that opened big holes for runners and provided plenty of protection for passers.
The North’s opportunistic defense intercepted two passes – the first resulting in a pick 6 – stopped the South four times on fourth down and registered two sacks, including one by Tepepa in the second quarter.
“The highlight for me was when I made that sack,” the all-league linebacker said of dropping Pioneer’s Austin Jobe for a 7-yard loss on fourth down. “I just felt powerful – like I took over the game.”
Tepepa’s sack celebration didn’t include any trash talk – just a quick flex of his biceps.
“I just had to show my muscles – that’s it,” he said.
An inside linebacker by trade, Tepepa showed off his coverage skills as well. Two passes thrown his way fell incomplete, largely due to his tight coverage on the intended receivers.
“Going into the game, I felt confident that I was going to make plays and stuff like that,” he said.
Olsen made his biggest play in a second quarter dominated by the North.
“There was a screen in the flat, and I made a nice play and jumped it and made a nice tackle,” he said. “That was my favorite personal moment.”
Olsen’s favorite team moment also came in the second quarter: an interception returned for a 25-yard touchdown by cornerback Gabriel Reclusado of Piedmont Hills.
“It was that pick 6 – that was great,” Olsen said. “I was right next to him when he got it. Oh, man, nothing beats that. That got us started.”
The play, coupled with the extra point, pushed the North’s lead to 20-3 with 7 minutes left in the first half.
A long kick return and a personal foul on the North after the two teams briefly scuffled near midfield put the South in prime position to answer that touchdown on its next drive. Santa Clara defensive back Richard Corona intercepted a pass into the end zone, however, and the North marched 80 yards in three plays for another TD.
The North led 27-10 at halftime, scoring all its points in a span of just more than 6 1/2 minutes.
The South sliced its deficit to 27-17 midway through the third and soon got the ball back near midfield after stopping the North on fourth down.
The North defense held firm, though, as Olsen helped bring down Oak Grove halfback Elijah Dominguez for a 4-yard loss on third down to force a punt.
“For a second there late in the third when they got real close, I was (nervous),” Olsen said, “but we shored it up and got it done.”
The North broke its scoring drought early in the fourth quarter when Wilcox halfback Gabe Herrera crossed the goal line on a 6-yard scamper. The extra point made it 34-17 with just under 8 minutes to go.
“I think for a lot of teams what happens when they’re up at the half, it sets in their mind that they’ve already won the game, so I think we just needed to push on the gas pedal a little bit more,” St. Laurent said. “I think we just let off of it a little bit and that’s what kind of gave them that edge. As they started to push us back, we pushed the gas pedal harder and won the game.”
For St. Laurent, who helped the North amass nearly 350 yards of offense, the all-star experience meant more than leaving the field victorious.
“The whole game was a highlight for me,” he said. “Just getting to bond with these guys in such little time and having this tight brotherhood in only 10 days of practice and to play with them at the very end – and to win with them – was definitely my highlight.”