Giger comes up big for Sea Kings

A year ago, Josh Giger caught passes from his cousin, Mitch Gardner, the quarterback at the time at Corona del Mar High.

"It was like unreal, him throwing the ball to me," Giger said.

The two cousins grew up together, living down the street from each other. They hooked up more on the pavement than on the football field.

Gardner didn't throw as much to Giger as this season's quarterback has through nine games.

Last year, Giger wasn't the team's top threat. He has turned into Brent Lawson's favorite target in the last five weeks.

Giger is 5-foot-8 with cleats on and 160 pounds with his helmet and pads on. One of the smallest players on the team is still making the biggest offensive plays for CdM.

Without No. 5, CdM isn't in position to go unbeaten in Pacific Coast League play for the second straight year.

The Sea Kings (8-1, 4-0 in league) play for their second straight outright league title against Beckman (7-2, 4-0) at Newport Harbor High Friday at 7 p.m. The battle between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division might be a muddy one.

Coach Scott Meyer expects it to rain in the league finale for the league crown.

"It doesn't really matter," Giger said when asked if the rain will affect the Sea Kings' spread offense.

Not much has slowed down CdM's no-huddle offense since the program suffered its only setback of the season.

Giger has been on fire since CdM's 29-26 loss to Newport Harbor on Sept. 30. He produced last week.

Giger finished with career bests in catches (eight) and touchdowns (three) as CdM rolled University, 49-21. Giger, who caught one touchdown pass and finished with 114 yards receiving, twice rushed for touchdowns.

In the last five games, Giger has 27 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns.

During the stretch, the Sea Kings have won every time. The Battle of the Bay loss in which CdM allowed Newport Harbor to rally from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter humbled CdM.

"It was a good loss just to kind of show that we can be beat," said Giger, held to season lows in catches (one) and yards (17) in the rivalry game. "We always got to be going 100%."

That isn't an issue for Giger. He looks as though he's going 100 miles-per-hour whenever he has the ball in his arms.

In space, he's dangerous. He can catch a swing pass and take it to the house as he pulled off last week, helping Lawson get credit for a 51-yard touchdown pass.

Five times Lawson has connected with Giger for touchdowns. The longest has been a 72-yarder, coming at crucial moment. The hookup turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in CdM's 31-30 come-from-behind victory against Woodbridge on Oct. 27.

"When we go down like that, it's just a weird feeling. We kind of know we're going to come back," said Giger, whose team trailed Woodbridge, 30-10, in the third quarter. "[I] never really panicked. I just did my thing."

Giger is performing ever since CdM kept him fulltime as a slot receiver.

Lawson is glad Giger is no longer splitting time at cornerback and receiver. He has three other big options, Troy Reese (6-3), Chris Johnstone (6-2) and Matt English (6-1), but in recent weeks, it has been because of Giger that Lawson has set CdM's school record for touchdown passes in the regular season with 20.

Giger is now trying to help Lawson break two other single-season passing records at CdM. Lawson is three touchdown passes away from surpassing the 22-touchdown mark set by Taylor Hughes five years ago and 328 yards away from surpassing Hughes' 2,204-yard mark.

Lawson has already topped Gardner's senior year in which he threw for 1,635 yards and 19 touchdowns.

"Brent's doing his thing," said Giger, who leads the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (642). "He's going everywhere.

"We're better this year than we were last year. There [are] more guys to go to and Lawson knows that."

*

Josh Giger

Born: Sept. 29, 1993

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 160 pounds

Sport: Football

Position: Wide receiver

Coach: Scott Meyer

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite movie: "The Hangover"

Favorite athletic moment: "My [72-yard game-winning] touchdown [catch] against Woodbridge [this year]."

Week in review: Giger caught eight passes for 114 yards and one touchdown and rushed for two touchdowns in CdM's 49-21 Pacific Coast League win against University.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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