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Duo ready to play with elite

Costa Mesa lineman Whitlock and CdM linebacker Alex Swigert will play for South in OC All-Star Football Game.

July 16, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com

Whitlock showed up to OCC to follow London Sapolu and check how he fared against the county's best. Whitlock said he remembers a strong effort turned in by Sapolu on the defensive line.

"That made me want to be the next Mesa player to go to the All-Star game," Whitlock said.

Much like how Sapolu played as a senior that year, Whitlock started both ways in his last year with the Mustangs. He dominated, earning the Orange Coast League Lineman of the Year award on defense.

As a center, Whitlock received All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division and Newport-Mesa Dream Team honors. He delivered 27 pancake blocks and helped Costa Mesa produce its first winning record in seven seasons.

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Beside all the accolades, Whitlock said he felt intimidated on the first day of practice for the OC All-Star game.

"I didn't feel like I belonged because [the rest of the players] were all from good schools," Whitlock said. "Then I started getting the groove of things.

"My mom helped. She said, 'They picked you for a reason, so go out there and show them what you got.' "

Kathy's words affected her son. Whitlock has impressed John Shipp, the coach of the South, so much that Osso said it looks like Whitlock will start at left guard and rotate in and out at defensive tackle.

The football game will not be the last one for Whitlock. He plans to play for OCC next season.

Tonight is Swigert's last hurrah in pads. Swigert is bound for UC Santa Barbara, which does not have a football program.

The 6-1, 205-pounder wants to leave a mark, hopefully on players from the North. Swigert, who also ran the ball at CdM, expects to concentrate on defense in the All-Star game.

Swigert is a tackling machine.

"I don't like to get beat," Swigert said.

That is a big reason why Swigert, a sprinter, said he fell in love with defense after first wanting to carry the ball at CdM.

Swigert decided to chase down running backs. He performed at a high level as an inside linebacker in defensive coordinator Eric Johnson's 3-4 defense.

Swigert led the Sea Kings in tackles the past two seasons and received first-team All-Pacific Coast League and Newport-Mesa Dream Team laurels. Even though he won't wear his usual No. 28, count on Swigert to be around the ball.

"Another player totally snaked my number before I could get it," said Swigert, who went with No. 33. "Then the player decided to drop out of the game because of another commitment."

Nothing can keep Swigert and Whitlock away from tonight's game.

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