COSTA MESA — The sprinkler in the southwest corner of Jim Scott Stadium came on just before kickoff Friday night.
Water arched high in the air, landing in the east end zone. The ball still appeared wet even after the game started for the Los Amigos High football team, which fumbled twice and muffed a punt in the first half.
Corona del Mar took advantage. The Sea Kings weren't about to let another trip to the CIF Southern Section Southern Division semifinals slip through their collective fingers.
The No. 2-seeded Sea Kings made it look easy in the quarterfinal game Friday, routing the Lobos, 45-7, to advance to the semifinals for the third time in four years. The Sea Kings will play at Laguna Beach in the semifinals Dec. 3.
Laguna Beach upset No. 3-seeded Segerstrom, 51-40, in another quarterfinal game Friday night.
"Los Amigos was a 9-2 team as well, so our guys didn't look past them at all," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said. "They prepared well and when our guys prepare well, most of the time we get a pretty positive result … We felt like we could both run the ball and throw it on them. We really condensed our playbook this week, and kind of ran the stuff we were really comfortable with."
The offense didn't have to exert itself too much. Defense and special teams got the Sea Kings (10-2) rolling early, after they scored first when senior quarterback Brent Lawson found his go-to receiver, senior Josh Giger, on a 39-yard play-action pass midway through the first quarter. The strike capped a 94-yard drive that also featured two runs for first downs out of the Wildcat formation by senior Aaron White, who had his usual all-over-the-field game at linebacker.
When Los Amigos (9-3) tried the Wildcat, it was less successful. A high snap was fumbled away, and CdM senior linebacker Frasier Anderson scooped up the ball and returned it to the Lobos' two-yard line. Lawson scampered in from there.
The next Los Amigos possession ended with a punt partially blocked by CdM senior David Moore. White caught the ball off the deflection and returned it to the Los Amigos 10-yard line. A play later, senior running back Erik Fisher spun away from two would-be tacklers to find the end zone, giving the Sea Kings a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter.
"We just gave it our all," said Moore, a backup lineman who said he blocked his first varsity kick. "We wanted to get past this step. It's just another step. It's the 13th step next week."
The Sea Kings' Chris Johnstone also recovered a muffed punt at midfield in the second quarter. After a 33-yard play-action pass to senior tight end Matt English, Fisher scored again on a six-yard run to widen the lead to 28-0.
Lawson again hooked up with Giger on a 37-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, before backup quarterback Cayman Carter capped the CdM scoring with a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Lawson, who passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, broke the CdM single-season passing yardage record in Friday's game. He now has 2,341 yards passing and 25 touchdown passes this year, and both are CdM single-season records.
"Honestly, it was all special teams and defense," Lawson said. "I mean, we got the ball on the [Los Amigos] one [yard-line] and the 10. You can't really ask for anything else. Those guys just played their butts off … We're really starting to play on special teams, which gets overlooked a lot. But we spend a lot of time on that in practice and it's a big part of our season, big part of our team."
Los Amigos, the second-place team out of the Garden Grove League, finally got on the board when junior running back Jerry Saldivar scored on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
The Sea Kings next week will be trying to reach the CIF finals for the first time since the 1989 team won the Division VI title.
"Now our thing is 'chase the ring,'" Lawson said. "We've got to go one game at a time — we've got to win the next game — but we're really all about the ring … We've just got to have the best week of practice of the whole season. I honestly think there's no way we're going to settle for [falling short in] the playoffs. We've seen it year after year.
"I think this team is special. The motto, for me individually and for the team too, is just that we've got to reject mediocrity. We can't settle for being average. It goes with the passing stuff, too. We're just tired of being average, and I think that's a big thing."
CIF Southern Section Southern Division
Corona del Mar 45, Los Amigos 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Los Amigos 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
Corona del Mar 21 – 10 – 7 – 7 — 45
CdM – Giger 39 pass from Lawson (Garrett kick), 6:06.
CdM – Lawson 1 run (Garrett kick), 4:13.
CdM – Fisher 10 run (Garrett kick), 1:03.
CdM – Fisher 6 run (Garrett kick), 7:30.
CdM – Garrett 43 FG, 0:00.
CdM – Giger 37 pass from Lawson (Garrett kick), 4:29.
LA – Saldivar 1 run (Valdez kick), 10:38.
CdM – Carter 2 run (Garrett kick), 4:54.
LA – Hernandez, 6-26.
CdM – Fisher, 12-58, 2 TDs.
LA – Hernandez, 13-23-0, 142.
CdM – Lawson , 8-14-0, 230, 2 TDs.
LA – Perez, 8-92.
CdM – English, 4-84.