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High School Football: CdM puts streak on line

Coach Scott Meyer's Friday began in Long Beach, where he lives. He then drove to Corona del Mar High, where he's the football coach.

In the afternoon, Meyer went home. This time, he brought his entire team with him.

The site of CdM's evening scrimmage wasn't far from where Meyer resides. The Sea Kings' scrimmage took place at Long Beach Wilson, where Meyer went to school and played football, and later served as an assistant.

Meyer's family has a rich history at Long Beach Wilson. The stadium bears the name of his grandfather, Cliff Meyer, the captain of the first Long Beach Wilson football team in 1926.

This wasn't the first time Meyer faced his alma mater. He coached against Long Beach Wilson when he was in charge at Long Beach Jordan for six seasons.

The latest team Meyer brought to Long Beach Wilson has been far more successful than his former teams at Long Beach Jordan. The Sea Kings are coming off a 16-0 season, becoming the first program in the state to produce such a record, and a CIF State Division III Bowl Game win.

Family and friends of Meyer who also call Long Beach home came out to watch Meyer and his team in action. For the Sea Kings, they finally hit players other than themselves, a week before the real season starts against Carlsbad La Costa Canyon on Aug. 29 at San Diego Cathedral Catholic.

The Sea Kings enter the season not having dropped a game since Sept. 21, 2012. Their winning streak stands at 26 games, the longest current one in the state. Meyer, who enters his fourth season, has posted a 40-4 overall record with the Sea Kings, claiming two undefeated Pacific Coast League titles and three CIF Southern Section Southern Division titles.

"We know that the target just keeps getting bigger," said Meyer, whose team moves up to the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs, which is equivalent to Division 4.

"Our league opponents always want to knock us off. With this nonleague schedule [this year], I'm sure [rival Newport] Harbor has us circled on the calendar after [we beat the Sailors in the Battle of the Bay game] last year [for the first time since 2006]. El Toro, you know, we got them [last year, winning 24-21]. Dana Hills, Tesoro and La Costa Canyon, all higher division teams, they don't want to have a loss to us.

"That nonleague schedule kind of fires us up, and the chance to compete at a higher level in the playoffs [does as well]. It's going to be real, real challenging for us."

Meyer and the Sea Kings are up for the test. They return 10 starters on a stingy defense that allowed 9.6 points per game last season, but only three starters on offense. Below are the Sea Kings who Meyer will depend on all season.

Quarterback: Meyer has had a new starting quarterback in each of his four seasons. Next up is Peter Bush, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior.

Last year, Bush backed up Luke Napolitano, who set CdM single-season records for passing yards (2,645) and completions (197), while throwing for 25 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions.

The offense is going to ask Bush to run more than Napolitano. While Napolitano had speed, he picked his spots to run.

Bush and his backup, sophomore Chase Garbers, are more in the mold of Cayman Carter, CdM's physical running quarterback from two years ago, when he rushed for 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Running backs: Cole Martin is back after a record-breaking junior season, rushing 300 times for 1,870 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Meyer expects a big year out of Martin, a member of the All-State Medium Schools Third Team for juniors last season. Don't expect the senior's workload to increase, even though the backfield lost another standout, tailback Anthony Battista, who transferred to Tesoro in April.

"He's a good player," Meyer said of Battista, who as a sophomore rushed for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns, almost half of those stats he recorded in CdM's six playoff games. "We would've liked to have him. We could've had him and Cole on the field at the same time at times, but he's gone now, so we're going to compete with what we have.

"Early last year there was a couple of games where Cole had [31] and [31] carries [in] back-to-back [games against] El Toro and Newport Harbor. We know he can do that, but we don't want to do that to him. I would think he'd be probably closer to 20 carries a night. Some games maybe more, but we don't want to wear him out."

Meyer said sophomore Jaydin Moses will see time in the backfield, as well as seniors Hugh Crance and Barrett Barbato.

Receivers: Seniors Bo St. Geme and Cole Collins are returning starters, and they're dynamic.

The duo set the CdM single-season record for catches last year, each finishing with 60, and both made the All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division team. St. Geme and Collins give Bush sure-handed receivers.

The third receiver spot has sophomores Dylan Tucker and Billy Shaw, and junior Jack Blower battling for it.

Tight end: Seniors Harrison Carter, Parker Chase and Justin Hess are expected to see time on offense.

Offensive line: This is the biggest question mark on the team for Meyer. The Sea Kings lost their five starters to graduation, including center Giovanni Gentosi, who made the MaxPreps All-American Small Schools Team last season.

The line features one senior, Jack Pagliassotti, a 6-3, 250-pound left tackle, and junior left guard Joe Anderson (5-11, 230). The two started a couple of games last season because of injuries.

The other members include sophomore center Arwin Rahmatpanah (5-11, 225), sophomore right guard Bryan Samudro and junior right tackle Mitch Dean (6-3, 250).

Defensive line: The four starting linemen, Chase, Carter, Hess and Mat Flores, return.

The ends created havoc for offenses last season, Chase sacking the quarterback 16 times and Carter 10½ times. Meyer said Chase, who finished two shy of CdM's single-season sack record, and Carter, are being recruited by Ivy League schools.

Chase made the MaxPreps California Division III All-State first team last season. Chase and Carter are each 6-3, Chase 205 pounds and Carter 235 pounds.

Hess and Flores are the defensive tackles.

Linebackers: The Crance twins are back, along with Robby Hoffman. The three seniors can run and hit.

Hoyt Crance is the middle linebacker, and Hugh Crance and Hoffman are outside linebackers. The Crances are playing lacrosse in college, Hugh at the University of Notre Dame, and Hoyt at Yale.

"Real fortunate they came out," Meyer said of the Crances' decision to return to football. "I know they love playing high school football with their buddies, and obviously it will be their last time they get a chance to play football."

Meyer said another linebacker to look out for is junior Karl Donovan. He will be a backup.

Secondary: This is where CdM lost a starter on defense, safety Charlie Griffin, a member of the MaxPreps California Division III All-State first team last season.

Barrett Barbato, a senior strong safety who has been offered by Yale, will help senior Luke Gardner settle in at free safety.

The cornerbacks are seniors Brett Greenlee and Chad Redfearn. Greenlee, another standout lacrosse player who has committed to Denver, is one of the best cover guys in Orange County. He earned All-CIF honors last season.

Barbato's younger brother, Sutty, a junior, will see time at safety and junior Taylor Damron at cornerback.

Special teams: Jason Neiger returns as the starting placekicker, but the junior has some competition. Meyer said Neiger and Andrew Wysopal have been handling the kicking and punting duties.

Hugh Crance returns as a kickoff returner, and Barrett Barbato, Tucker, Moses and Collins are in the mix. Collins is expected to be the punt returner, and Tucker and Moses might get a shot.

Meyer said the team is looking for a long snapper. Rahmatpanah, Samudro and Donovan have been practicing.

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