The Corona del Mar High football team faced a bit of a mirror match on Friday.
CdM traveled to play at Palos Verdes, a team that also shares the Sea Kings mascot. And, while CdM returns 10 starters on offense from last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 4 finalist team, Palos Verdes returned 10 starters on defense from a team that made the Division 5 title game.
The resulting game was a grind-it-out affair, and increasingly chippy in the muggy afternoon sun. But CdM still used a big play to gain some separation.
Ethan Garbers’ 78-yard touchdown pass to John Humphreys on the first play of the fourth quarter helped CdM earn the 20-10 nonleague victory.
Humphreys had four catches for 114 yards and the touchdown in the second half for CdM (3-0), which is ranked No. 3 in Division 3. He did not play in the first half for precautionary reasons, CdM coach Dan O’Shea said, after bruising his right knee in last week’s win at Mountain View Saint Francis.
Humphreys, who warmed up pregame before deciding to sit out, stood on the sidelines in the first half. He watched as Garbers connected with senior tight end Mark Redman and junior receiver Tommy Griffin on touchdown passes as CdM built a 13-3 halftime lead.
“I was getting pretty antsy,” Humphreys said. “By halftime, I was ready to go. I couldn’t just watch my team go out there and play. I wanted to be out there with them.”
Palos Verdes (2-1), ranked No. 4 in Division 4, cut the CdM lead to 13-10 in the third quarter after Garbers’ quick punt was too low, bouncing off a member of his offensive line. The hosts took over at the CdM 37, and six plays later, Palos Verdes senior quarterback Jake Jellison found senior receiver Rhett Wilken on a 22-yard touchdown pass.
CdM created one turnover in the first half, when Jellison’s pass was tipped by Mason Gecowets and intercepted by Carter Duss. Palos Verdes finished with just 154 yards of total offense.
“It was a long bus ride, a hostile environment, but we stayed resilient and kept our heads down the whole game,” CdM senior defensive end Jack Rottler said. “[Palos Verdes] is really good … This game and St. Francis last week were pretty hard-nosed environments. These are the games that are going to get us ready for the playoffs.”
On CdM’s side of the ball, Garbers finished 20 of 37 for 298 yards and the three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception, and the 20 points CdM produced was what O’Shea could have hoped for.
“That’s maybe the best defense we’ll see all year,” said O’Shea, estimating that Palos Verdes blitzed 75% of the time. “They’re unbelievable on defense. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We thought if we could get to 21 [points], that would be great, and 28 would be a miracle. They’re that good on defense.
“We didn’t pick up the blitz very well. We didn’t get the ball out cleanly. When we did, we were able to get over the top of them for three big touchdowns, for sure, but my hat’s off to their defense.”
Palos Verdes had a chance to take the lead later in the third quarter, again starting with good field position after a CdM punt went out of bounds at midfield. Palos Verdes got as close as the CdM 22, but consecutive personal foul and holding penalties pushed the hosts back, and they were forced to punt.
Garbers completed two passes to Humphreys on CdM’s next drive, but back-to-back holding penalties put CdM in a first-and-30 situation at its 22 as the fourth quarter began. Garbers went deep to Humphreys, who sprinted past the defensive back for the score down the right sideline, the final touchdown of the game.
CdM hosts Lakewood on Sept. 13 at Newport Harbor High.
Corona del Mar 20, Palos Verdes 10
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM 7 – 6 – 0 – 7 — 20
Palos Verdes 0 – 3 –7 – 0 — 10
CdM – Redman 12 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 3:44.
CdM – Griffin 27 pass from Garbers (kick blocked), 4:31.
PV – Roah 42 FG, 2:03.
PV – Wilken 22 pass from Jellison (Roah kick), 7:31.
CdM – Humphreys 78 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 11:48.
CdM – Vicencio, 12-49.
PV – J. Wilson, 5-21.
CdM – Garbers, 20-37-0, 298, 3 TDs.
PV – Jellison, 13-26-1, 108, 1 TD.
CdM – Humphreys, 4-114, 1 TD.
PV – Wilken, 3-47, 1 TD.
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