Sea Kings handle Mesa in scrimmage

COSTA MESA — The Costa Mesa High football team barely avoided being shut out Friday night. Then the Mustangs worried about the lights shutting off at Jim Scott Stadium.

Jeremy Osso wanted to make sure he was going to continue to coach the Mustangs so he tried to get a hold of whoever was in charge of the lights. Corona del Mar Coach Jason Hitchens was all for it.

The two coaches met at midfield after the Sea Kings won the varsity scrimmage, 24-6.

"Do you still want to scrimmage?" Osso asked Hitchens and Hitchens nodded his head before sending the junior varsity team out to the field.

Costa Mesa and CdM kicked off the season against each other the past two years. Osso and Hitchens decided a scrimmage made more sense before their respective teams opened the season next week.

One team is far ahead of the other.

It took time for the Sea Kings and Mustangs to produce anything offensively. Coaches waited 6 minutes, 15 seconds for an offense to move the chains.

CdM eventually found its groove behind two seniors, quarterback Mitch Gardner and running back Clay Reinhardt. Gardner completed seven of 10 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and Reinhardt rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

If it was not for the shorter quarters (eight minutes), CdM might have scored more. Osso was just glad to see his team find the end zone in the final 17 seconds, when quarterback Nathan Alvis hit Jordan Walden with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

"The last two years it took us the first two games to get this [lack of offense] out of our system, so with any luck, it won't take us two games to get this out of our system," said Osso, who has not led Costa Mesa to a win in an opener in his first four years in charge.

For Osso's sake, he does not have to kick off the season against CdM again.

The Mustangs open the season at Jim Scott Stadium against Buena Park on Thursday at 7 p.m. The previous two openers, the Sea Kings beat the Mustangs by an average of 40 points.

The Mustangs appeared to close the gap between the two programs in the first seven minutes of the scrimmage.

Costa Mesa received great field position, starting on the opponent's 30 and 29 on its first two offensive possessions. The Mustangs failed to capitalize on the first opportunity when a CdM punt went for only 13 yards.

The defense quickly gave its offense another shot. On first down, Costa Mesa recovered a fumble and the Mustangs took over on the 29 midway through the first quarter.

The Sea Kings stood their ground defensively. Senior defensive end Dylan Salisbury was one of two Sea Kings to sack the left-handed Alvis. The plays fired up a group of fans in the bleachers.

Costa Mesa's crosstown rival, Estancia, attended the scrimmage. The Eagles, who also use Jim Scott Stadium as their home field, cheered whenever a play went against the Mustangs.

Late in the opening quarter, they made a lot of noise in support of CdM.

Reinhardt ripped off a 21-yard run after breaking a tackle in the backfield. Two plays later, it was wide receiver Erik Fisher gaining 24 yards on a run, putting the Sea Kings past midfield for the first time.

The Sea Kings went to Reinhardt again and this time he raced toward CdM's sideline and in for a 29-yard touchdown. With 22 seconds left in the first quarter, CdM led, 6-0, because teams were not allowed to try extra-point kicks or go for a two-point conversion.

CdM did not let Costa Mesa move the ball, let alone score in the first half.

The defense only gave up one first down to the Mustangs in the first 16 minutes. Costa Mesa's biggest play from scrimmage in the first half was a 25-yard run by senior Julian Marquez.

Costa Mesa played without its projected starter at tailback, Tyler Sheffner. Osso said Sheffner was recently hospitalized with an ulcer.

"If he's healthy, that's the plan," Osso said of Sheffner's chance to return in time for the Mustangs' opener.

Without the senior, Costa Mesa handed the ball off to senior DaSean Grayson and Marquez a combined 11 times, resulting in 41 yards. The quarterback carried the ball more against CdM.

Alvis rushed 10 times for 21 yards. The Sea Kings sacked the athletic junior four times.

The Sea Kings came away unscathed.

Hitchens went into the scrimmage indifferent about the CIF Southern Section allowing teams that play Week Zero games to scrimmage another team before the season without losing a bye week.

Hitchens weighed the pros, experiencing a game tempo before the season, to the cons. Hitchens was concerned about some players suffering injuries, which plagued CdM during its 0-5 record in the Pacific Coast League last season.

CdM opens the season against Savanna on Friday at Newport Harbor High at 7 p.m.

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