Senior quarterback Ethan Garbers was talking about a perfect 16-0 season before he ever threw a pass for the Corona del Mar High football team in 2019.
Garbers is rarely if ever brash, but he exudes a quiet confidence. And he was very clear about his goal for his final year of high school, after falling in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title game as a junior.
Four months later it was mission accomplished for the Sea Kings, who won the Sunset League and Division 3 titles along the way, avenging last year’s loss to Simi Valley Grace Brethren. They capped their season with a 35-27 win over San Mateo Serra in the CIF State Division 1-A championship game at Cerritos College.
It was the second state title for the Sea Kings, who had arguably the best season in program history. Individually, Garbers also put together a season to remember.
The two-year starter completed 341 of 491 passes for an Orange County record 5,035 yards, a CIF Southern Section record 71 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Four days after coach Dan O’Shea’s Sea Kings won the state title, Garbers and tight end Mark Redman signed with the University of Washington, while star receiver John Humphreys signed with Stanford.
For his improvement and leadership in an historic CdM season, Garbers is the 2019 Daily Pilot Football Dream Team Player of the Year. He joins his older brother, Chase, a redshirt sophomore quarterback at Cal who earned the award in 2015 and 2016.
Ethan Garbers could play against his brother in the Pac-12 Conference someday.
“That’d be something special,” said Garbers, who was the Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. “I’ve got to work hard, got a lot of stuff to get done. But if that happens, that would be awesome. [I’d be] excited to beat him.”
“Special” describes the season that Garbers had in an offense that averaged 43.6 points per game and scored 42 or more points in 13 of 16 games. He also showed an increased propensity to run with the ball late in the season. He had 15 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown in the Division 1-A final against Serra, and finished the season with 573 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
“As far as leading the offense, he gets us right,” CdM offensive coordinator Kevin Hettig said. “He doesn’t miss on run checks and protection checks. That was one of the reasons we had so few negative plays. If there was a weird front or a weird coverage, he would get us right against it. The reason that we were able to be so aggressive on offense is that we weren’t in second-and-12 or second-and-15 [situations] a whole lot. We were able to take shots and stay ahead of the sticks, and really that’s on Ethan. He did as much with his mind as he did with his arm.”
Hettig said he was proud of the way that Garbers persevered as a sophomore, when he was one of four quarterbacks in the program and lost out on the starting job to then-senior Nathanial Espinoza, the 2017 Dream Team Player of the Year who went on to play quarterback at Golden West College.
“He wasn’t handed anything,” Hettig said of Garbers, who shared the Sunset League MVP award and made the All-Orange County first team. “A lot of sophomore quarterbacks would have looked around and said, ‘Hey, there’s four guys here, I’m out.’ And he didn’t … Ethan just battled and battled and battled, and he came out on top. I love that story.”
The Sea Kings came out on top every time this year. Garbers said that he and Redman plan to graduate from CdM early, at the end of January, and enroll at Washington at the end of March.
A new chapter will begin. Garbers always said along the way that the individual statistics didn’t matter, but a 16-0 season is one he will never forget.
“These have been the best four years of my life,” he said. “I learned so much as a person, more than a football player, just how to be respectful and treat other people. It’s really turned me into a young man like Coach O’Shea wants everyone to be. It’s been a blast; I’ve had so much fun.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
A mural is painted near the Vikings’ practice field, symbolizing the school’s athletic teams that have won a CIF Southern Section title. In his sixth season in charge, Turley made sure the football team would get a shield put up. The Vikings went 12-3 overall, won the Big 4 League title by going 3-0 and made their first CIF semifinal appearance since 1985. Then they went a step further, winning the program’s first CIF crown after defeating Pasadena Muir 18-9 for the Division 11 title. The defensive-minded Turley got the most out of a hard-working group of kids, many of whom played both ways.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
WR | Corona del Mar | Sr.
Like his quarterback Garbers, Humphreys was a record-breaker in his final high school season. A four-year varsity player who could beat you deep or break a tackle, the Stanford-bound Humphreys caught 111 passes for 2,001 yards and 32 touchdowns, sharing Sunset League MVP honors with Garbers and making the All-Orange County first team. Humphreys’ 32 touchdown receptions tied an Orange County single-season record, and his 78 career touchdowns is a state record. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Humphreys, a three-time first-team Dream Team selection, finished his CdM career with gaudy school-record receiving numbers of 287 catches, 5,118 yards and 78 touchdowns.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
LB | Edison | Sr.
An Edison linebacker earns this honor for the second straight year. After Luke Hoggard graduated, Mike Walters stepped up as the man in the Chargers’ linebacking corps. Walters, who also starred at running back and was effective at running the Wildcat offense near the goal line, earned Sunset League Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Orange County honors after registering a team-best 100 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss. He had one sack and forced three fumbles. Walters, who signed with UC Davis, even played some safety and cornerback, helping the Chargers go 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the league for second place, and qualify for the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs, where Edison advanced to the quarterfinals before losing 35-27 to La Habra.
ALL-PURPOSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
WR-DB-PR-KR | Marina | Jr.
Brenton, a transfer from Edison, made an impact for the CIF Southern Section Division 11 champion Vikings in all three facets of the game. He shared Big 4 League MVP honors with Segerstrom senior running back/defensive back Andrew Schouw after helping the Vikings win their first undefeated league title since 1986 and advance to the postseason for the first time since 2001. Brenton led Marina with 39 catches for 683 yards and 13 touchdowns and also came up big defensively in the section championship game, where he caught a touchdown pass in an 18-9 win over Pasadena Muir and also recorded two of his five interceptions for the season. Brenton also averaged nearly 30 yards per kickoff return and 26 yards per punt return.
QB | Edison | Jr.
Boyles was able to make plays with his arm and his feet for the Chargers, and put up good numbers despite splitting time much of the season with fellow junior Jacob Hanlon. Boyles improved as the campaign went on and was the Sunset League Co-Offensive Back of the Year, sharing the honor with Newport Harbor junior running back Justin McCoy. Boyles finished with 120 completions on 208 attempts for 1,974 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
RB | Newport Harbor | Jr.
McCoy had easily the top statistical season for a running back in the area, with 260 carries for 1,249 yards and 21 touchdowns. In a season where Cole Lavin and Nick Kim each saw time at quarterback, McCoy was the constant, helping the Sailors (9-4) finish fourth in the Sunset League and advance to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 9 playoffs. The Co-Offensive Back of the Year in the league with Boyles, McCoy also was dangerous in the passing game for Newport Harbor, with 47 catches for 472 yards and four touchdowns.
RB | Marina | Sr.
Blessed with an apropos name for a running back, Rush turned in a big season for the Vikings on the way to the CIF Southern Section Division 11 championship. As the lead back in a rushing attack that also included junior Brantt Riederich, Rush had 169 carries for 1,258 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the Big 4 League Co-Offensive Player of the Year, sharing the award with Segerstrom quarterback Angel Vega. Rush had six 100-yard rushing games.
WR | Corona del Mar | Sr.
Schlom was not the big name on the Sea Kings, but nobody who played against CdM would doubt his ability. The speedy Schlom turned in his second straight 1,000-yard season, with 91 catches for 1,151 yards and 17 touchdowns, all numbers that put him second on the Sea Kings to Humphreys. He was the Sunset League Co-Offensive Player of the Year along with teammate Mark Redman, and he made the All-Orange County third team. Schlom is a repeat first-team Dream Team selection.
WR | Fountain Valley | Sr.
Anderson, one of the few senior leaders on a young Barons team, had a very successful season prior to breaking his collarbone against CdM in Week 8. He finished with 55 catches for 920 yards and nine touchdowns, and earned Sunset League Wide Receiver of the Year honors. Even against CdM, Anderson was having success against the Sea Kings’ stout defense, as he had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown prior to the injury. Fountain Valley went 3-7 overall and 0-5 in league play.
WR | Ocean View | Sr.
Alcaraz excelled and had a record-breaking year catching balls from senior quarterback Braden Crabtree. Alcaraz finished with 69 catches for 1,111 yards and 11 touchdowns, and coach Luis Nuñez said all three marks are Ocean View single-season receiving records. He helped Ocean View (7-4) finish second in the Pac 4 League and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 12 playoffs, where the Seahawks lost 60-21 at top-seeded eventual champion El Monte in the first round. Alcaraz was the Pac 4 League Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Laguna Beach quarterback Andrew Johnson.
TE | Corona del Mar | Sr.
A big target for the Sea Kings at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Redman was effective blocking or catching the ball, and that’s why he’s going to the University of Washington next year. Redman was the Sunset League Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Schlom and earned first-team All-Orange County honors. He also had success at linebacker, where he contributed 6.5 quarterback sacks. Redman, a three-time first-team Dream Team selection, finished with 72 catches for 979 yards and 13 touchdowns.
OL | Corona del Mar | Jr.
Bouda, the Sea Kings’ left tackle, was part of the line that gave Garbers plenty of room to operate and rarely gave up a sack. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was the Sunset League Offensive Lineman of the Year and a second-team All-Orange County pick, and he also played on the defensive line, registering 28 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He’s a repeat first-team Dream Team selection.
OL | Corona del Mar | Sr.
Tomlinson moved from guard to center following the graduation of Sean Owens, a three-year starter there for the Sea Kings. All the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Tomlinson did was not have one bad snap the entire year, CdM coach Dan O’Shea said. Tomlinson, who made first-team All-Sunset League and third-team All-Orange County, did not miss a game in three years as a starting offensive lineman at CdM.
OL | Newport Harbor| Sr.
The 6-foot-4, 258-pound left tackle helped propel the Sailors’ run game which featured McCoy while also protecting the blind side of the Newport Harbor quarterbacks. He showed improvement from second-team All-Sunset League status as a junior to first-team all-league this season, the only Newport Harbor lineman with first-team accolades. Mathisrud, a third-team All-Orange County pick, will be a preferred walk-on player at the University of Washington.
OL | Estancia | Sr.
The Eagles’ center, who also played nose guard on defense, improved a lot as a senior. Olivera, who is 5-foot-9 and 245 pounds, played every down of every game, coach Mike Bargas said, and helped fuel the Eagles’ rushing attack. That attack had 255 rushing yards as Estancia beat Costa Mesa 27-21 in the Orange Coast League finale, winning the Battle for the Bell game for the sixth straight year. Olivera was a first-team all-league selection for the Eagles (3-7).
OL | Edison | Jr.
Coach Jeff Grady said the offensive line was the strength of the Chargers’ offense. Easterday was a leader of that unit even as a junior, creating holes for running backs like Walters, Mateo Liau and Tanner Nelson. Easterday, a 5-foot-10, 230-pound left tackle, earned first-team All-Sunset League and second-team All-Orange County accolades.
AP | Marina | Sr.
Church, like Brenton, was another utility guy who was very valuable for the Vikings. He played receiver and strong safety, as well as serving as Marina’s kicker and punter. A first-team All-Big 4 League selection, Church had 34 catches for 609 yards and six touchdowns. He also contributed 115 tackles, second on the team, and eight tackles for a loss.
PK | Corona del Mar | Jr.
The Sea Kings’ kicker did his job well, even on a team that attempted just one field goal all season. His kickoffs would routinely go into the end zone, resulting in a touchback for the opponent, and he assured CdM of the seventh point after nearly every touchdown. Voorhees made 96 of 98 extra-point kicks and he was the Sunset League Kicker of the Year.
DL | Edison | Sr.
Fletcher is a repeat first-team Dream Team selection, and the defensive end delivered another big season as a senior for the Chargers. He finished with 86 tackles, third on the team, as well as a team-best totals of 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. Fletcher was a first-team All-Sunset League selection.
DL | Ocean View | Sr.
Roberts is another repeat first-team Dream Team selection and led the Seahawks’ defensive unit as a three-year starter. He finished with 74 tackles, third on the team, as well as team-best totals of 16 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. The 11 sacks tied a school record. Roberts was the Pac 4 League Co-Lineman of the Year along with Western’s Danny Walters III.
DL | Huntington Beach | Sr.
Bova turned out a standout senior year as a defensive end for the Oilers. His 11 quarterback sacks led the Sunset League and he added 45 tackles, including 20 tackles for a loss. He also played some running back, with 149 rushing yards and a touchdown. Bova was a first-team All-Sunset League selection for the Oilers (2-9, 1-4 in league), who lost 35-8 to Cypress in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs.
DL | Marina | Sr.
The Vikings’ defensive tackle pressured opposing quarterbacks all season long. That led to 11 sacks, which was a school record. He also contributed 100 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss. Vasquez was a first-team All-Big 4 League selection.
LB | Marina | Sr.
Turley called O’Rourke, the Vikings’ middle linebacker, the glue of the Marina defense. He succeeded in taking away the run, on his way to a team-best 158 tackles, including 16 tackles for a loss that also tied for the team lead. O’Rourke was a first-team All-Big 4 League selection.
LB | Newport Harbor| Sr.
An inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, Koste was a hard-hitting player for a strong Newport Harbor linebacker corps. Koste, a three-time All-Sunset League selection, finished with a league-best 125 tackles, as well as 15 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and five forced fumbles. He was a large part of a 7-0 start that was the Sailors’ best since 1994. Koste was a first-team all-league pick.
LB | Corona del Mar | Sr.
Gecowets was team captain for a defense that allowed just 13.8 points per game, and he led the way with a team-best 108 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for a loss. The biggest tackle came at the goal line in the final minute of CdM’s 14-7 win over Oceanside in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division 1-A final, denying Oceanside’s Kavika Tua a touchdown and keeping CdM’s dream of a state title intact. Gecowets was a first-team All-Sunset League selection and a second-team All-Orange County selection.
DB | Corona del Mar | Sr.
Fincher, a repeat first-team Dream Team selection and returning All-CIF performer, played the role of a shutdown cornerback for the Sea Kings. He had 33 tackles and led CdM with five interceptions — all coming in the Sea Kings’ last five games. Fincher had a key interception at the one-yard-line late in the second half of the Sea Kings’ 14-7 win over Oceanside in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division 1-A final, preserving the team’s lead. Fincher made the All-Sunset League and All-Orange County first teams.
DB | Marina | Sr.
The Vikings would typically put Slavens on the opponent’s top receiver, and the cornerback would typically win that battle. Slavens finished with 46 tackles and he led Marina with four interceptions, including one in both the CIF Southern Section Division 11 semifinal win over Hemet and the title game victory over Pasadena Muir. Slavens was a first-team All-Big 4 League selection.
DB | Edison | Sr.
Nelson received high praise when he was selected as the Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year and made the All-Orange County third team. The safety, who also played a bit of outside linebacker and rushed for 450 yards and six touchdowns, finished with 40 tackles on defense. He also proved very useful on special teams, where he blocked three punts.
DB | Corona del Mar | Jr.
Griffin, a free safety, showed a high football IQ. The son of CdM director of football operations and freshman head coach John Griffin, Tommy had 64 tackles, three tackles for a loss and three interceptions. The last interception, with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, clinched the Sea Kings’ 35-27 win over San Mateo Serra in the CIF State Division 1-A championship game. Griffin was a first-team All-Sunset League selection.
Position, Name, School, Year
QB Andrew Johnson, Laguna Beach, Sr.
RB Riley Binnquist, Corona del Mar, Sr.
WR Cole Koffler, Edison, Sr.
WR Raul Villalobos, Laguna Beach, Sr.
WR Aidan Goltz, Newport Harbor, Sr.
TE Christian Moore, Huntington Beach, Sr.
OL Trent Jordahl, Edison, Sr.
OL Isaia Regan, Marina, Sr.
OL Cade Jones, Edison, Sr.
OL Brad Sweeney, Fountain Valley, Sr.
OL Vinny Provenza, Corona del Mar, Sr.
AP Nick Burton, Costa Mesa, Jr.
PK Beck Kesler, Laguna Beach, Sr.
Position, Name, School, Year
DL Chase Zanck, Corona del Mar, Sr.
DL Lucio Silva, Ocean View, Sr.
DL Carter Duss, Corona del Mar, Sr.
LB Johnny Brigandi, Newport Harbor, Sr.
LB Nathan Pacheco, Estancia, Sr.
LB Conner Long, Marina, Sr.
LB E.J. Riederich, Huntington Beach, So.
DB Jerry Ngo, Fountain Valley, Sr.
DB Adolfo Chavez, Los Amigos, Sr.
DB Jack Pigott, Laguna Beach, Sr.
DB Kaden Stowell, Newport Harbor, Jr.
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