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High School Football Preview: Expectations always high at Corona del Mar

John Humphreys
John Humphreys, a Stanford commit shown at Corona del Mar’s practice on Aug. 8, was last year’s Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

For as much as the Corona del Mar High football team accomplished last season, it’s easy to see why the Sea Kings would feel they come into 2019 with unfinished business.

CdM won a league title in its first year in the Sunset League — but it had to share it with Los Alamitos after the teams’ showdown was postponed by lightning in the first quarter and not rescheduled.

The Sea Kings earned the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs and advanced to the final — only to be upset by No. 3-seeded Simi Valley Grace Brethren 26-14.

CdM coach Dan O’Shea, in his fifth year as head coach, is not big on naming opponents when measuring his team’s success.

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“It’s based on how we play,” he said. “If we play well, we hope to be competitive and successful. If we don’t play well, that’s on us.”

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Ethan Garbers, seen throwing a pass during Corona del Mar's practice on Aug. 8, passed for 4,135 yards and 55 touchdowns in 2018.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Still, the season goals are clear. The celebrated senior class, which includes University of Washington-bound senior quarterback Ethan Garbers, Stanford-bound receiver John Humphreys and Washington-bound tight end Mark Redman, wants to go out with a CIF championship.

CdM has come close two of the last three years; in 2016 the Sea Kings lost 36-35 to Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in overtime in the Division 4 final.

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This year, the Sea Kings have moved up to Division 3.

“I can’t wait to go out there and battle with some of my best friends, my brothers,” said Garbers, who threw for 4,135 yards and 55 touchdowns last year, both CdM single-season records. “It’s going to be a fun year. I’m excited for what we’re going to do. [We’re] just trying to go 16-0 and win a state championship.”

The Sea Kings certainly have reason to be confident on offense, where they return 10 starters. Center Sean Owens graduated, so senior Tanner Tomlinson will slide over to that spot from left guard. The offensive line also includes junior left tackle Thomas Bouda, sophomore left guard Cole Clemmer, junior right guard Hunter Schimmelpfennig and senior right tackle Vinny Provenza.

Humphreys, last year’s Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year, is a four-year starter. He returns after tallying 103 receptions for 1,783 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, all CdM single-season records.

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Corona del Mar running back Jason Vicencio, a returning starter, heads up the field during a practice on Aug. 8.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Seniors Bradley Schlom and Simon Hall are other standout returning receivers, while senior Jason Vicencio returns at running back.

“It’s great,” Garbers said. “All of the guys around me … it’s a blessing. I’m truly blessed just to get back there with those guys, have two years under my belt with them and just know we’re going to kill it this year.”

The Sea Kings return six starters on defense, including senior defensive ends Jack Rottler and Carter Duss. Rottler is back healthy, O’Shea said, after playing through a torn hip labrum last season.

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Juniors Connor Brooks and Brock Preston are also expected to step in be key contributors on the defensive line, O’Shea said, as well as senior nose guard Max Farzine, who was an offensive lineman last season.

Sea Kings coach Dan O’Shea and four standout players address the media as one of eight top public school programs featured Wednesday at Mission Viejo High.

Seniors Cole Rener, Luke Sullivan and Chase Zanck are all returning at linebacker, while senior Chandler Fincher is a returning All-CIF cornerback and junior Tommy Griffin is back at safety.

“We didn’t get the CIF ring, so we’re just trying to get that this year,” Rener said. “There’s definitely a buzz. Everyone’s ready to pad up and get out onto the field.

“A lot more guys have been taking this year seriously. I think they’ve been cracking down more on who’s [messing] around and who’s taking this seriously, who wants to win.”

A new twist to the nonleague schedule this season is that the Sea Kings travel to Northern California for a game at Mountain Valley St. Francis on Aug. 30, after opening against Downey at Newport Harbor High on Aug. 23.

St. Francis went 11-3 last season, winning the West Catholic League before losing 31-30 to San Jose Valley Christian in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division II championship game.

Winning a state title for CdM would be the program’s second, as it won the CIF State Division III Bowl Game in 2013. Back then, O’Shea was the defensive coordinator under Scott Meyer and the Sea Kings became the first team in state history to finish 16-0.

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Motivation for another perfect season is easy to find. Just mention the words, “Grace Brethren,” a team which by the way also moved up to Division 3.

“We just remember how that last game [last year] felt,” Schlom said. “We don’t want to ever feel that again.”

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Mark Redman, pictured working out at Corona del Mar's Aug. 8 practice, has committed as a tight end to the University of Washington.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

CORONA DEL MAR SEA KINGS

CIF Southern Section Division: 3

Coach: Dan O’Shea (fifth year)

Staff: Kevin Hettig (associate head coach/offensive coordinator), Brian Pearsall (defensive coordinator), Tony Thornon (strength and conditioning/secondary), Jacob Morado (tight ends/running backs/special teams), Clay Kennedy (offensive line), Teddy Barber (outside linebackers/defensive line), Jaydin Moses (running backs), Ryan Ketcham (wide receivers), Eric Asaro (defensive line), Mark Cunningham (secondary), Jack O’Shea (defensive assistant), Bob Hettig (offensive assistant), Cassidy Filpi (trainer)

2018 season: 11-2-1, 4-0-1 in the Pacific Coast League (tied for first place), lost 26-14 to Grace Brethren in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 title game

Offensive scheme: No huddle, spread option

Defensive scheme: 4-3

Returning offensive starters: 10

Returning defensive starters: Six

Returning with honors: Sr. QB Ethan Garbers, Sr. WR/S John Humphreys, Sr. CB Chandler Fincher, Sr. WR Bradley Schlom, Sr. TE Mark Redman, Jr. OL Thomas Bouda, Sr. DE Carter Duss, Sr. WR Simon Hall, Sr. C Tanner Tomlinson

SCHEDULE

August

23 — vs. Downey at Newport Harbor High

30 — at Mountain View St. Francis

September

6 — at Palos Verdes, 3 p.m.

13 — vs. Lakewood at Newport Harbor High

26 — vs. San Clemente at Newport Harbor High

October

3 — at Huntington Beach*

11 — vs. Edison* at Newport Harbor High

17 — vs. Fountain Valley* at Huntington Beach High

25 — at Newport Harbor*

November

1 — vs. Los Alamitos* at Newport Harbor High

*denotes league game

All games 7 p.m. unless noted

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