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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES : Southern Section Division VI : Corona del Mar Upsets Valencia for Title, 17-7

Times Staff Writer

With 26 years of sometimes hot, sometimes cold football in its past, Corona del Mar High School realized the season of its dreams Friday night with a 17-7 upset victory over Valencia for the Southern Section Division VI championship.

The Sea Kings (12-0-2) capped their first undefeated season by outplaying Valencia, the top-seeded team and the defending champion.

Sea King quarterback Ty Price completed 13 of 18 passes for 233 yards, and though he was intercepted twice, Price compensated with delivering the big plays when needed.

It was with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter that Price turned the game around for Corona del Mar. Down 7-6, and standing at the Sea King 25-yard line, Price lofted a deep, precise pass to John Katovsich for a 65-yard gain.

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Three plays later, Katovsich scored on a 3-yard run, and Price hit Warren Johnson for the conversion pass to give Corona del Mar a 14-7 lead, one that it would never relinquish.

Although Valencia, led by fullback Keef Leasure (93 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries), outgained Corona del Mar on the ground, 133-91, the Tigers tried to regain the lead in the air. But Tiger quarterback Tracy Garrett (7 of 24 for 92 yards) was continually terrorized by the Sea King defense, which sacked him 4 times and intercepted him 3 times.

The first interception--by linebacker Pat Callaghan at the Sea King 25--foiled what appeared to be a probable 6-point gain for Valencia with 5:27 left to play.

The second and the third interceptions--both by Warren Johnson--again saved the Sea Kings from what seemed to be oncoming trouble.

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Johnson, who finished the season with 11 interceptions, intercepted Garrett at the Sea King 2 with 5:03 remaining in the game. Then, as Garrett launched a desperation pass from the Sea King 33 into the end zone, Johnson came up with the interception and Corona del Mar had the victory.

For Valencia (12-1-1), the loss marked its first defeat in 25 games--dating back to October, 1987.

The Tigers, the Central Conference champions last season, lost their chance at becoming the first team to win back-to-back championships in this division.

“We let them have a couple of big pass plays,” Valencia Coach Mike Marrujo said. “In a CIF championship game, you have to play well to win, and we didn’t play well.”

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