High Schools: Battle of Bay on hiatus

The high school rivalry between Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor takes place in almost every sport.

The Battle of the Bay is intense, friendly and it brings the community together. And the Back Bay rivalry is one of the best in Orange County.

Name the venue and the two programs compete against each other on the gridiron, in the pool, on the course, on the diamond, on the pitch, on the track, on the field, on the mat, and on the court practically every year.

One court the Sea Kings and Sailors have not met recently is the one on which the boys' basketball teams play.

For the second straight season, the Battle of the Bay isn't happening.

What is troubling is that the two schools have been unable to find a date to schedule the annual big hoops game. There is plenty of time to find a date that works for both programs.

"We've got about seven or eight weeks before we get to league," CdM Coach Ryan Schachter said with a smile after his team opened Pacific Coast League play last week. "Is there time? I don't know."

Schachter knows there is time for the Battle of the Bay every season. He is always looking for games.

Don Grable, the athletic director at CdM, said Newport Harbor's schedule was full.

The real question is whether Newport Harbor wants to face CdM.

If there's a school that should be hesitant to play the Battle of the Bay, it should be CdM. CdM has around 1,000 fewer students than Newport Harbor, which has enrollment of about 2,500.

But the Sea Kings (9-7), ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A poll, aren't afraid of the bigger school.

Since Schachter took over at CdM in 2006-07, the Sea Kings have owned the Battle of the Bay, winning every time. In Schachter's first four seasons, the Sea Kings and Sailors played. The games were close, the margin of victory being about 11 points per game.

Where the two programs stand isn't even remotely close. This might be a reason why the Sailors don't want to play CdM.

The Sea Kings have enjoyed far more success in the previous five seasons than the Sailors have during the same stretch.

Under Schachter, CdM has won a CIF Southern Section Division III-A title, reached the quarterfinals three times and claimed four Pacific Coast League titles.

The Sailors haven't come close to contending for a Sunset League crown since 2007-08, when they finished one game behind champion Los Alamitos. Since then, Newport Harbor has missed the playoffs twice in three seasons.

Last week, Newport Harbor Coach Larry Hirst was worried about his team's chances of making the postseason this season. The Sailors (5-11) have lost nine straight games.

Two of those losses came during nonleague contests last week, one against Woodbridge and one against Estancia, which are currently ranked No. 11 and No. 15 in Division 3AAA and Division 3A, respectively.

The Sea Kings had an open date early that week, a perfect time for the Battle of the Bay.

Hirst said he preferred his team play Woodbridge.

"We see each other every year because we've kept the single [game against Woodbridge] ever since our league split," said Hirst, referring to the Sea View League. "I like the style of play that [Coach John Halagan] always brings. I like the competitiveness of his teams. I know they're always going to be a well-coached team. We kept them on the schedule for that.

"Estancia, we've played off and on for the last 17 years and it just fits into our schedule."

What hasn't fit into the Sailors' schedule is CdM again.

"It's just hard for our schedules to match," Hirst said. "[Schachter] plays in certain tournaments that I don't play in my open week and vice versa. Then over the winter, we always travel. Our lower levels played [CdM] the week we were preparing to go to Chicago."

Schachter said he understands the Sailors travel out of the state during the holiday break.

What is disappointing is that Sailors haven't found the time to make the less-than-four-mile trip to CdM. It's their turn to travel for the Battle of the Bay, since the last game was at Newport Harbor two years ago.

"My players are extremely disappointed," Schachter said of the Battle of the Bay's hiatus. "As a coach, to be honest, it doesn't matter who we play, but [from] my players, it just comes up quite often. Ultimately, that's why it disappointed me because it disappointed my players."

One local football player might be throwing for Alabama next year; not a football, but a discus.

Newport Harbor football coach Jeff Brinkley said Alabama has offered senior outside linebacker Ethan Cochran a track and field scholarship.

Cochran won the CIF State discus title as a junior with a heave of 185 feet, nine inches, becoming the first Sailor to win a state title in the event.

Cochran earned first-team All-Sunset League and Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team honors in football.

UCLA, UC Berkeley, Wake Forest and UC Irvine have also offered Newport Harbor senior Steve Michaelsen a chance to throw in their track and field programs.

Michaelsen said he plans to compete at UCLA, UC Berkeley or Wake Forest unless he gets a football offer from a big conference school. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Michaelsen received a share of the Sunset League Defensive Lineman of the Year and Dream Team honors after recording eight sacks.

Brinkley added that senior safety Titus Hasson, the Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year and Dream Team All-Purpose Player of the Year, has interest from Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State, and senior linebacker Grant Frazier will play football at Pomona-Pitzer, a Division III school.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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