High School Football Preview: Sea Kings go for three

The sounds coming from an office inside Corona del Mar High's field house are hard for Coach Scott Meyer to ignore.

"I heard a lot of giggling," said Meyer, who eventually learns what all the fuss is about in the room.

Four of his players are having a good time talking about the upcoming season. If there's pressure to repeat the success of the past two seasons, the Sea Kings aren't showing it at all.

The bar has been set high at CdM since Meyer arrived at the school two years ago from Long Beach. Winning it all is all CdM knows under Meyer.

Meyer's Sea Kings are aiming for a three-peat in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division. They plan to make Meyer's third season a special one, and not by just claiming three straight section titles for the first time in CdM's history.

"I think it will be cool to go undefeated," Luke Napolitano said of this year, his first as CdM's starting quarterback.

The Sea Kings are counting on Napolitano and a dozen other returning starters to lead the way to an unprecedented season. The Sea Kings have gone unbeaten before, 25 years ago when they went 12-0-2 and won the program's first section title, but never have they finished with a perfect record.

The timing is ideal for Napolitano to take over as the signal caller of the top-ranked team in the Southern Division preseason poll. No longer will he just punt, which he performed well last year, garnering All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division accolades.

Napolitano, a senior, said he has learned how to lead from the program's previous two quarterbacks, Cayman Carter in 2012 and Brent Lawson in 2011. The two players went on to earn the All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division Offensive Player of the Year award in their final year.

Napolitano waited for his turn to run the Sea Kings' no-huddle, zone-read option offense. Out of the three quarterbacks under Meyer, Napolitano, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, looks like the prototypical, drop-back quarterback.

However, don't let his looks fool you. The new quarterback can also run.

"Cayman was a real physical inside runner for us," Meyer said of last season's Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year, "but Luke's probably a little faster than Cayman was."

The plan isn't for Napolitano to run as wild as Carter, who rushed 197 times for 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. The Sea Kings expect their tailbacks to lead their ground attack this season.

Cole Martin is back and he will share the backfield with fellow junior Hugh Crance. Three of the guys blocking for the running backs return, senior center Giovanni Gentosi, an All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division pick, senior right guard Brett Olson and senior right tackle Ian Redman.

Napolitano has a standout receiver in junior Bo St. Geme back, and a defense that will get him ample of opportunities to produce points.

Seven defensive players that started in the Sea Kings' 35-10 win against Garden Grove in the Southern Division title game return. Alex Moore, an All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division performer as a junior middle linebacker, leads the group.

The numbers on defense bode well for CdM's Pacific Coast League and Southern Division title defenses. Last year, the defense blanked its first three opponents in the playoffs en route to capping CdM's second back-to-back title run since 1988-89. Back then, the defense also turned in three shutouts in the postseason and only allowed 10 points in the championship.

The following season, the Sea Kings finished 5-5-1, falling way short of a three-peat. The current Sea Kings want to prevent that from happening again. They have their sights set on perfection.

"That's a lofty, lofty goal, but I'm glad those guys are talking that way," said Meyer, whose team opens the season against Pacifica on Friday at 7 p.m. at Davidson Field. "It's nice to be considered a favorite, but … we all know we have a target on our back.

"We talked about all the teams [Pacifica, Laguna Hills, El Toro, Newport Harbor and Capistrano Valley] on our nonleague schedule are in a higher division, but they're still, you know, trying to come after us because, you know, we did win a championship last year."

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Corona del Mar Sea Kings

League: Pacific Coast

CIF Division: Southern

Coach: Scott Meyer (third year, 24-4)

Staff: Kevin Hettig (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Dan O'Shea (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Dan Collins (receivers/tight ends), Dennis Wilbanks (offensive line), Aaron Huerta (secondary), Brian Pearsall (defensive line/strength and conditioning coach), Brad Bohn (running backs), Jack O'Shea (operations), Kyle Collins (offensive line), Karif Byrd (speed).

2012 season: 12-2, 5-0 in Pacific Coast League (first place), beat Garden Grove, 35-10, in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game.

Returning starters: five offense, seven defense

Returning with honors: MLB Alex Moore, WR Bo St. Geme, P Luke Napolitano, C Giovanni Gentosi, S Ryan Griffin, RB Cole Martin, RG Brett Olson, OLB Hoyt Crance.

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SCHEDULE

August

30 - Pacifica

September

6 - at Laguna Hills

13 - at El Toro

20 – Newport Harbor at Orange Coast College

27 – Capistrano Valley

October

11 - Irvine*

18 – vs. Woodbridge* at University

25 - at University*

November

1 - Beckman*

8 - Northwood*

*denotes league game

All home games at Davidson Field

All games 7 p.m.

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