The Corona del Mar High football team finished a perfect regular season Friday, and in many ways a perfect Sunset League campaign.
The Sea Kings had a lead of 35 or more points in the fourth quarter of all five of their league games, meaning a running clock would be in effect.
Los Alamitos was the latest victim, and even on a night when the CdM offense wasn’t its sharpest, the result was still a blowout victory.
Senior quarterback Ethan Garbers threw five touchdowns, four to John Humphreys, and the familiar connection proved unstoppable in league yet again. The Sea Kings routed the Griffins 48-14 on their senior night at Newport Harbor High, clinching their first outright Sunset League title.
CdM (10-0, 5-0 in league), the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 3, is expected to receive the division’s top seed when the playoff brackets are released Sunday.
This is the first CdM team to finish with an undefeated regular season since 2013, when the Sea Kings won their last CIF title, in the Southern Division, and also the CIF State Division III Bowl Game.
“It’s a big deal for us,” said Garbers, who had 279 yards on 19-for-32 passing, including an interception, and ran for a 25-yard touchdown. “Just to finally be here and win those 10 games in a row is really something special. All the credit is to the guys around us … The defense, the offensive line, the receivers, every single person on the team makes a difference, whether it’s in practice or in a game. We’re all grateful for that, and we’re just excited to go to the playoffs.”
CdM, which shared the league title with Los Alamitos last year, scored at least 42 points in every league game. The Sea Kings wasted little time getting going against the Griffins (4-6, 3-2), which finished third in league, behind second-place Edison (7-3, 4-1). The Chargers and Griffins also will vie in the Division 3 playoffs.
Zack Green returned the opening kickoff 53 yards for CdM. Garbers then found senior tight end Mark Redman open over the middle on a 37-yard touchdown pass. After the Griffins went three-and-out, CdM’s next drive concluded with a six-yard touchdown pass to Humphreys, whose 23 touchdown catches this season lead Orange County.
CdM’s offense bogged down for a bit, and Los Alamitos stayed in the game. The Griffins cut their deficit to 13-7 early in the second quarter, when senior quarterback Cade McConnell found Gavin Porch on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
But later in the quarter, CdM’s sixth drive of the half ended on Jason Vicencio’s two-yard touchdown run. Three plays later, CdM junior safety Tommy Griffin intercepted McConnell, reaching back across his body in the middle of the field and running it back to the Griffins 13-yard line. It was the first of two interceptions by Griffin in the first half.
The Sea Kings quickly cashed in, with Garbers finding Humphreys on an eight-yard strike over the middle. The duo would connect for another touchdown in the final minute of the half, giving CdM a dominating 34-7 halftime advantage. Humphreys finished with seven receptions for 112 yards.
“We were just a little out of sync,” CdM offensive coordinator Kevin Hettig said. “When you can still score like that and be out of sync, I think it shows what these kids are capable of, but we were not clicking tonight. Los Al did a nice job, and their kids held up in some man coverage. It was a funky night.
“We have a hard time staying patient sometimes, and I think that hurt us a little bit tonight. We still felt confident, even though we punted a couple of times in the first half. We still felt confident enough to let it rip … I mean, shoot, if we can be out of sync and still run the clock on Los Al, we’re happy.”
CdM head coach Dan O’Shea said he expects Division 3 to be tough from top to bottom. He said staying healthy will be a key for the Sea Kings, who were Division 4 finalists last year.
O’Shea took time to acknowledge the senior class, which includes three Pac-12 signees in Humphreys, who is headed to Stanford, and the University of Washington-bound Garbers and Redman.
Even running at less than peak efficiency, the offense is tough to stop.
“We like being frustrated with 48 [points],” O’Shea said. “That keeps us hungry. That’s a compliment to our expectations, it really is.”
Corona del Mar 48, Los Alamitos 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Los Alamitos 0 – 7 – 0 – 7 — 14
Corona del Mar 13 – 21 –14 – 0 — 48
CdM – Redman 37 pass from Garbers (run failed), 11:43.
CdM – Humphreys 6 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 8:03.
LA – Porch 14 pass from McConnell (Shafton kick), 11:28.
CdM – Vicencio 2 run (Voorhees kick), 5:52.
CdM – Humphreys 8 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 4:54.
CdM – Humphreys 14 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 0:45.
CdM – Garbers 25 run (Voorhees kick), 5:55.
CdM – Humphreys 30 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 0:37.
LA – Porch 27 pass from Nelson (Shafton kick), 4:05.
LA – Mitchell, 11-25.
CdM – Binnquist, 10-51.
LA – McConnell, 5-13-2, 92, 1 TD.
CdM – Garbers, 19-32-1, 279, 5 TDs.
LA – Porch, 5-123, 2 TDs.
CdM – Humphreys, 7-112, 4 TDs.
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