These days, it's hard to top what the Corona del Mar High football team has achieved since Coach Scott Meyer arrived three years ago. One player who can used to play for CdM and Meyer introduced the Sea Kings to Jeff Thomason on Friday.
Thomason won the biggest prize in all of football, a Super Bowl. He played in three, winning it once with the Green Bay Packers in 1997.
Three and a half hours before CdM's opening kickoff against El Toro, Thomason talked to the Sea Kings about coaching and what it takes to be successful on the field. The Sea Kings are doing a pretty good job of winning games under Meyer.
Corona del Mar reeled off its 29th straight victory by defeating El Toro, 31-14, at Davidson Field. The winning streak currently ranks as the best in the state, and it's one off from matching the 10th best in CIF Southern Section history.
"They aren't happy or satisfied with what they did last year," Meyer said as to why the Sea Kings have continued their winnings ways.
The Sea Kings are coming off a 16-0 season and a CIF State Division III Bowl Game win. The one team that came close to ruining CdM's perfect season was El Toro.
The programs met again in the third game of the season, and the Sea Kings (3-0) didn't need Brett Greenlee to block a potential game-tying field goal on the final play to triumph again. They didn't even need their standout tailback to hand El Toro its first loss of the season.
Cole Martin limped off the field late in the opening quarter with what he called a serious knee injury, and never returned. At the time the senior exited, Martin had four rushes for as many yards, and CdM led, 3-0, because of Jason Neiger's 37-yard field goal.
Also missing from the CdM offense was right tackle Mitch Dean, whom Meyer said was out with a concussion. The Sea Kings went with two defensive ends, Parker Chase and Harrison Carter, who split time at right tackle. The two usually harass quarterbacks. They helped open up holes and protect quarterback Peter Bush.
Bush and backup running back Jaydin Moses picked up the slack with Martin out. Bush rushed 21 times for 102 yards and three touchdowns, and Moses rushed 19 times for 86 yards.
With Martin missing the final three quarters, the Sea Kings ran Bush nine more times than they did in his previous two combined starts. Bush moved the chains with his legs, and also completed 13 of 23 passes for 139 yards.
"Peter's like a 215-pound running back for us, so [we wanted to] kind of pound him in there," Meyer said.
The CdM offense began to move in the second quarter, reaching the end zone twice. Bush ran for a four-yard score with 9:12 left in the first half.
Almost seven minutes later, the Sea Kings used a little trickery to score. The Sea Kings ran a reverse pass, Hugh Crance handing the ball to wide receiver Cole Collins, who went to the right. He pulled back and saw a wide-open Bo St. Geme, hitting him for a 50-yard touchdown to put CdM up, 17-7, right before at halftime.
"It gave us a little bit of a spark, especially [going against El Toro's hurry-up] offense, to go up a [couple of] scores on them was big," said Meyer, who had three Sea Kings throw passes, Bush, backup quarterback Chase Garbers and Collins.
The three of them completed at least a pass to St. Geme, who finished with nine receptions for 155 yards. None of the three flung the ball around as much as El Toro quarterback Trey Tinsley, who attempted 39 passes, completing 20 of them for 192 yards. None of Tinsley's throws resulted in a touchdown.
The first score CdM's vaunted defense allowed this season was a two-yard run by Matt Amato on fourth-and-goal with 7:31 left in the first half. After blanking their first two opponents, the Sea Kings' string of shutouts ended.
The Sea Kings allowed another score, on a kickoff Kaleb Fossum returned 99 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The score came 14 seconds after the first of Bush's two one-yard touchdown runs.
With a 10-point lead in the third quarter, CdM's defense finally sacked Tinsley. Carter brought him down, forcing a punt. Late in the quarter, Greenlee picked off a Tinsley pass, wrestling it away from the receiver. The effort embodied the message Thomason gave the Sea Kings in the afternoon.
"[Thomason's speech] was just more … inspirational, play with your heart and desire … like we have been," said Meyer, whose team will surely compete that way next week, when CdM returns to Davidson Field to face Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay rivalry game.
Corona del Mar 31, El Toro 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
El Toro 0 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 14
CdM 3 – 14 – 7 – 7 — 31
CdM – Neiger 37 FG, 6:46.
CdM – Bush 4 run (Neiger kick), 9:12.
ET – Amato 2 run (Butcher kick), 7:31.
CdM – St. Geme 50 pass from Collins (Neiger kick), 2:23.
CdM – Bush 1 run (Neiger kick), 8:14.
ET – Fossum 99 kick return (Butcher kick), 8:00.
CdM – Bush 1 run (Neiger kick), 10:23.
ET – Amato, 11-29, 1 TD.
CdM – Bush, 21-102, 3 TDs.
ET – Tinsley, 20-39-1, 192.
CdM – Bush, 13-23-0, 139; Collins, 1-1-0, 50, 1 TD.
ET – Todds, 4-61.