While the Senior Bowl and Pro Bowl took center stage this weekend, there was another all-star game happening right here in Orange County.
For the third year in a row, the Chargers were a proud sponsor of Saturday’s Orange County All-Star Classic, presented by Audi. Three years ago, the team's sponsorship helped save the game, which was in danger of being cancelled.
The Chargers fund all aspects of the game, and plan it alongside the game’s charitable benefactor, Costa Mesa United, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of sports fields, facilities and equipment throughout Costa Mesa. In addition, the Bolts provided Chargers game pants straight from the team’s equipment room for kids to wear.
“It’s awesome,” said Ron Amburgey, Vice President of the Board of Directors of Costa Mesa United. “We would not be doing this event if it wasn’t for the help from the Chargers. They’ve been huge.”
The annual game, a battle between the best players from high schools in North and South Orange County, gives graduating seniors a chance to showcase their skills for one final game before they head off to college. The South walked away with the victory, winning 16-7.
This year was particularly special as it was the 60th anniversary of the game. As such, alumni of the game, including Chargers Legend Hank Bauer, came out to support the Orange County tradition.
“It’s amazing,” Bauer said. “I love what the Chargers have done here because this is 60 years of tradition. When I was a wee lad, before I got to high school, I looked up to John Huarte, Heisman trophy winner, and Mickey Flynn … and for me to be able to meet them tonight was amazing.”
“I think it’s inspiring,” added Amburgey. “It’s a testament to the former players, the teams, the coaches. It’s part of our history of this county. Some of us that were born here and have lived here forever, it means a lot to us.”
Bauer and Chargers linebacker Nick Dzubnar served as honorary captains of the North and South teams, respectively. Dzubnar, a Southern California native, was taken back to his roots during the game.
“I was invited to come and play in this back when I was in high school. I didn’t come, but now I wish I did,” Dzubnar said. “It’s exciting. It kind of brings you back to what this time was for you when you were there. Going into college, this was your last time playing against these guys. It’s pretty cool. I’m happy I’m here.”