Throughout the last two seasons, the Corona del Mar High football team had been described as one that put up “video-game numbers” on the offensive end.
A pair of single-season individual records were notched by the Sea Kings on Saturday night, but those accolades paled in comparison to what they considered the greatest number of all: 16-0.
The Sea Kings held off a late charge from San Mateo Serra, posting a 35-27 victory in the CIF State Division 1-A championship game at Cerritos College.
It marks the second time that CdM has completed an undefeated season at 16-0, as the Sea Kings also went on to win the Division III state title in 2013.
“These players don’t play for themselves,” Sea Kings coach Dan O’Shea said. “They play for each other. More importantly, they play for the entire community of Corona del Mar because that is where these kids are from, and that’s what they believe in.”
Pressed into action late, sophomore quarterback Dominique Lampkin led a rally that gave Serra (13-2) a chance to tie the score, despite trailing 35-14 with just over five minutes remaining. He threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to Terence Loville and 30 yards to Matt Rollandi that made it 35-27 with 2:46 left.
The Sea Kings did not pick up a first down after recovering the onside kick. Serra got the ball back on its own 13-yard line with 1:49 remaining. Lampkin completed his first six passes for 57 yards and added a 10-yard run on the potential game-tying drive, but an interception by Tommy Griffin ended the Padres’ comeback bid with two seconds remaining.
“Our coaches put us in a really good spot,” Griffin said. “The three years that I’ve been here, the last play, we’re taught to keep our heels on the goal line, don’t retreat, and I saw the ball in the air and I was able to make a play on it.
“I love this team. I’m so happy that we were able to send our seniors off with a win.”
Ethan Garbers, who has committed to Washington, threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns. He took his season total to 71 passing touchdowns, which broke the CIF Southern Section single-season record.
Although the Sea Kings were held to a low-scoring first half by their standards, Garbers made history along the way. His six-yard touchdown pass to Bradley Schlom at the 9:17 mark of the second quarter gave him the section’s single-season record, surpassing Mater Dei’s JT Daniels (2016) and Western’s Anthony Muñoz (2018).
“That’s great man, but nothing beats winning the state championship and going 16-0,” Garbers said of setting the section record. “All of the records and stuff are great, but that state championship is what I had my mind on, and I wasn’t going to let up until that happened.”
Garbers also rushed for 139 yards in the first half, but the one yard that he could not pick up came on the last play before halftime and it prevented the Sea Kings from padding a seven-point lead. CdM decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line, and Garbers was stopped in his tracks running up the middle.
CdM took a 14-7 lead into the halftime locker room.
With 5:12 remaining, Garbers hooked up with Stanford-bound wide receiver John Humphreys one last time. Humphreys tied Western’s Caine Savage for the Orange County single-season record in touchdown receptions with his 32nd this year.
The Sea Kings’ defense protected the lead with the game on the line, and Humphreys wanted to give credit where it was due after the game.
“I think our offense gets all the credit, but they really balled out there tonight,” Humphreys said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. We had one goal, a 16-0 state championship, and we accomplished that.”
The Sea Kings got solo sacks from Cole Rener, Charlie Mannon, Mark Redman and Jack Rottler. Chandler Fincher also snared his fifth interception of the postseason, which erased an interception thrown by Garbers on the previous possession.
The Padres got an early spark from the return of senior quarterback Daylin McLemore, who was playing in his first game since suffering a broken collarbone on Oct. 26.
McLemore took Serra down the field on an 80-yard opening drive, punctuating it with a nine-yard rushing score on a read-option run to the left.
The Padres’ senior signal-caller was knocked out of the game with Serra driving near the red zone early in the fourth quarter. Chase Zanck was called for a late hit near the boundary, one which resulted in McLemore’s removal.
Serra faced a third-and-one at the CdM 12 after the penalty was enforced. The snap was fumbled with a new quarterback in Lampkin lining up under center. The Padres recovered for a fourth-and-three opportunity, but Lampkin’s pass was batted away by Rener.
Rener also blocked an extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter, leaving CdM up 35-20 following a 20-yard touchdown pass from Lampkin to Loville, who had a game-high 172 receiving yards.
“I’ve been trying for this for four years,” Rener said. “Freshman, sophomore, junior year, I’ve always been waiting to win CIF. I didn’t even think about state, and now here we are. It’s an unbelievable time.”
Redman had eight catches for 93 yards to lead the CdM receiving corps. Humphreys caught 10 passes for 85 yards, and Schlom made eight grabs for 59 yards and two touchdowns.
Scott Giuliano made a leaping catch for a six-yard touchdown to give CdM a 21-7 lead with 8:36 to go in the third quarter. Riley Binnquist also picked up 79 rushing yards on 10 carries.
CIF State Division 1-A championship game
Corona del Mar 35, Serra 27
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Corona del Mar 7 – 7 – 14 – 7 — 35
Serra 7 – 0 – 7 – 13 — 27
S – McLemore 9 run (Lewis kick), 7:53.
CdM – Garbers 2 run (Voorhees kick), 5:25.
CdM – Schlom 6 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 9:17.
CdM – Giuliano 6 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 8:36.
S – Loville 65 pass from Sanchez (Lewis kick), 8:23.
CdM – Schlom 1 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 2:35.
CdM – Humphreys 7 pass from Garbers (Voorhees kick), 5:12.
S – Loville 20 pass from Lampkin (Lewis kick blocked), 3:43.
S – Rollandi 30 pass from Lampkin (Lewis kick), 2:46.
CdM – Garbers, 15-142, 1 TD.
S – Lampkin, 6-54.
CdM – Garbers, 28-41-1, 255, 4 TDs.
S – McLemore, 16-18-1, 159.
CdM – Redman, 8-93.
S – Loville, 6-172, 2 TDs.
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