Earlier in the week, Coach Dan O'Shea said he would not share his Lompoc High story with his Corona del Mar football team. The story was not long, the trip was, and that trip O'Shea took did not end well.
Thirty-one years ago, O'Shea faced Lompoc as a player. He played for Long Beach St. Anthony, which traveled 170 miles to play at Lompoc in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The three-hour bus ride home that night was not a pleasant one for O'Shea, whose team lost, 42-14. He was the quarterback, and he remembers not being able to do anything.
O'Shea got a chance to coach against Lompoc in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs on Friday, and this is a story he will look forward to telling many years from now. This one finished on a happy note.
The No. 3-seeded Sea Kings rallied to edge No. 2 Lompoc, 35-34, at Jim Scott Stadium, to advance to the section finals for the first time in three years.
Chase Garbers led CdM (12-1) back from 18-point deficit in the second half. No team had scored more than 14 points in a game against Lompoc, and somehow the Cal-bound quarterback threw four touchdown passes in the second half. Half of his touchdowns went to Reese Perez, for 90 and 62 yards.
Garbers, who only had 27 passing yards and no touchdown passes in the first half, threw for 300 yards in the final two quarters. The last 19 yards went to a freshman, John Humphreys, at a critical moment.
Garbers, a senior, trusted the youngster with the game on the line, and Humphreys came up with the game-winning touchdown with 45 seconds to go. Garbers went to the Humphreys, who broke a tackle on the left, before extending the ball over the goal line to complete a 19-yard touchdown.
"Lompoc is one hell of a team," said Garbers, who was intercepted once and rushed 14 times for 50 yards and a touchdown. "We're moving on to the CIF championship."
The Sea Kings ended Lompoc's perfect season, handing the Braves their lone setback of the year.
The Sea Kings will travel for the section finale next week to play No. 1 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (13-0). The Trailblazers beat Covina Charter Oak, 42-19, in the semifinals.
While the other semifinal was a blowout, CdM's defense prevented Lompoc from running away with the game. The Sea Kings limited running back Toa Taua to only 39 yards, 105 yards below his season average.
The Sea Kings also only gave up two touchdowns in the second half. Johnny Manzo was involved on both Lompoc scores. He had his second five-yard touchdown run to make it 28-10 Lompoc midway through the third quarter, and his big touchdown came on a double-pass trick play with 3:10 to go. The quarterback threw the ball back to Gregory Lewis, and then Lewis launched a pass to a wide-open Manzo at midfield and Manzo raced into the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown.
Twenty-one seconds after Garbers hit receiver TaeVeon Le on a 14-yard post for a touchdown, the Braves went back ahead, 34-29. They went for a two-point conversion and failed.
The Sea Kings only needed a touchdown to win. They had 3:02 to make it happen.
On the game-winning drive, CdM only ran JT Murphy twice, and the junior finished with 20 carries for 105 yards. Garbers threw seven times on the drive, going to Le twice for 20 yards, and Humphreys three times for 59 yards. Two 19-yard passes went to Humphreys on the drive. The first one Garbers had to flip it to him on the run.
With receiver Billy Shaw out for the second straight week with a fibula injury, Humphreys stepped up, finishing with eight receptions for 93 yards. He was second to Perez, who had 174 yards on five catches.
The CdM offense left it up to the defense to close things out.
Forty-five seconds remained for the Braves, but they wouldn't have the services of starting quarterback Kameron Davis, who threw two first-half touchdowns, the first on a screen pass that receiver Shemar Savage turned into a 79-yard score 90 seconds into the game. But Bryce Clabaugh, CdM's defensive end, knocked Davis out of the game on a four-yard sack with 7:59 to go.
With Davis hurt, Lompoc (12-1) turned to its backup quarterback, Xavier Nix. The Braves took over on their 20-yard line and his first two passes fell incomplete, and the next was another double-pass trick play, but this one fell incomplete.
Jack Fairon sealed the game with a sack, allowing CdM to make its sixth section finals appearance in the program's history. The Sea Kings have won every time they have made it this far, the previous three section titles came with O'Shea as the defensive coordinator from 2011-13.
O'Shea, in his second year in charge of the Sea Kings, has guided CdM to the big stage. He was happy to do it against Lompoc.
"We knew it was going to be a barnburner, but we said it wasn't the first 24 [minutes that we had to win, we had to] win the second 24 [minutes], and we did," O'Shea said. "This is about as big as a win that we've had since [winning] the 2013 [CIF State Division III title]."
CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs
Corona del Mar 35, Lompoc 34
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Lompoc 7 – 14 – 7 – 6 — 34
Corona del Mar 0 – 10 – 7 – 18 — 35
L – Savage 79 pass from Davis (Araujo kick), 10:30.
CdM – Casper kick 38 FG, 11:55.
CdM – Garbers 2 run (Casper kick), 6:37.
L – Taua 13 pass from Davis (Araujo kick), 3:17.
L – Manzo 5 run (Araujo kick), :37.
L – Manzo 5 run (Araujo kick), 6:41.
CdM – Perez 62 pass from Garbers (Casper kick), 2:15.
CdM – Perez 90 pass from Garbers (pass failed), 9:40.
CdM – Le 14 pass from Garbers (run failed), 3:31.
L – Manzo 85 pass from Lewis (pass failed), 3:10.
CdM – Humphreys 19 pass from Garbers (pass failed), :45.
L – Taua, 15-39.
CdM – Murphy, 20-105
L – Davis, 9-13-0, 194, 2 TDs.
CdM – Garbers, 19-31-1, 327, 4 TDs.
L – Savage, 3-123, 1 TD.
CdM – Perez, 5-174, 2 TDs.