CORONA DEL MAR
During the first day of helmet and pads at Corona del Mar High in August, Coach Jason Hitchens thought about starting the season with Clay Reinhardt at wide receiver.
He made the right decision by not moving the senior outside.
Reinhardt rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries Friday, helping the Sea Kings beat Savanna, 36-14, at Newport Harbor High.
In the second half, Reinhardt recorded most of his yards, 113. The biggest run of the night belonged to Reinhardt, a 27-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave CdM a 22-point lead.
**Senior Mitch Gardner accomplished something no Sea Kings quarterback was able to last season. He threw two touchdown passes in a game.
Gardner found Cole Cottrell twice for scores against defending Orange League champion Savanna and became the first CdM quarterback to finish with two touchdowns passes in a game since Mitch Sands did on Nov. 28, 2008. Sands' feat came in a victory in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs, while Gardner's was in a season opener.
Hitchens will take Gardner's performance after he said the biggest question mark going into the season was the quarterback position.
Gardner, who completed seven of 15 passes for 77 yards, has Huntington Beach next. The Oilers are from the Sunset League.
**The Sea Kings won their 10th straight season opener, third with Hitchens as coach.
Costa Mesa has not figured out how to start the season on a winning note under Coach Jeremy Osso.
Osso failed to lead the Mustangs to victory in his fifth straight season opener as Costa Mesa lost to Buena Park, 40-17, at Jim Scott Stadium.
Osso's teams the past five years have been outscored, 246-40, in openers. The last time Costa Mesa kicked off the season with a victory was in 2001.
Osso and Costa Mesa play host to Santiago next week. The second week has not been much better than the first for Osso. Costa Mesa has only one win to show, a forfeit it picked up in 2007.
**Costa Mesa committed 12 penalties for 75 yards. Half of the penalties came in the first quarter, contributing to the Mustangs falling behind Buena Park, 20-7.
Five times the defense jumped offside. One of the miscues in the third quarter helped the Coyotes gain a first down without snapping the ball on fourth-and-two on the Mustangs' 40-yard line.
Costa Mesa hurt itself again on the same drive. Four plays later, with Buena Park facing a third-and-20, the Coyotes completed a wide-receiver screen that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown.
**Nathan Alvis' debut as the quarterback at Costa Mesa was a rocky one.
Buena Park sacked the left-handed junior six times. Alvis completed nine of 16 passes for 91 yards. He recorded the Mustangs' lone touchdown from scrimmage after running in from five yards out early in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Costa Mesa moved the chains three times. Alvis was responsible for two of the first downs.
**Osso said he is unsure when two-way starter Tyler Sheffner will return for Costa Mesa. The senior linebacker and running back missed the Mustangs' opener.
Osso said Sheffner was hospitalized recently with an ulcer.
Taylor Ross rushed for 250 yards in Sage Hill's 20-13 win over Fairmont Prep Friday night at Valley Christian High in Cerritos. The 250 yards was a school single-game record, topping Keya Manshadi's 204-yard night against Capistrano Valley Christian in 2005.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Ross is not the biggest guy, but he gave a very gritty performance, breaking countless tackles on the night. He had touchdown runs of 80, 34 and seven yards.
Tolver, who starred at receiver at San Diego State and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, knows big-time talent when he sees it. Ross' running reminded him and his coaching staff of another hard-to-bring-down tailback who stars for the Minnesota Vikings.
"My coaching staff [Friday] night kept referring to him as Adrian Peterson," Tolver said. "He's just a tough-nosed runner, and he showed he has the speed to take it the distance. His running style is one that people fear."
Ross got stronger as the game went on. He ran the Wildcat effectively in the second half, either handing off to Eric Cheng or taking off with the ball himself. He ran for 139 of his 250 yards after halftime.
Ross put into action what Tolver said is one of the senior's favorite words: "dominate."
"That's a strong word," Tolver said. "I tell the kids all the time, 'Don't say stuff you don't mean.' But I think he's kind of fed that word into himself."
**Tolver gave credit to Sage Hill's offensive coordinator, Tom Kirchmeyer, for the decision to go into the Wildcat formation after halftime. With Fairmont Prep putting eight or nine guys in the box and also bracketing the Lightning's leading receiver, Taylor Petty, the plan became clear that Wildcat might be the way to go.
Sage Hill didn't run the formation until after halftime, Tolver said, partially because he didn't want to give Fairmont Prep a lengthy chance to devise schemes to stop it.
"Our plan was to run the ball as much as possible," Tolver said. "We really changed the flow of the game with that one package."
**Fairmont Prep is a familiar opening game for Sage Hill. The Huskies and the Lightning have played each other in the opening game each year since 2007.
Additionally, the teams have played each other in every year since Sage Hill started varsity football in 2002.
With Friday night's win, Sage is 6-3 overall against Fairmont Prep.