The Corona del Mar High football coaching staff has been through a lot, a lot of success in its first two years together.
In such a short period of time, the staff has led the Sea Kings to consecutive CIF Southern Section Southern Division titles and 12-2 seasons, and one 5-0 season in the Pacific Coast League, the first undefeated league championship campaign in the program’s history.
The staff, which lost only one assistant from last year, enters its third season at CdM and it isn’t breaking up any time soon. The man in charge, Scott Meyer, knows there’s going to be a time when he loses his top two assistants.
As of now, Kevin Hettig and Dan O’Shea tell Meyer that they’re happy with their roles as offensive and defensive coordinators and they don’t want to be head coaches. The two men make the afternoon commute from their teaching jobs at Trabuco Hills High in Mission Viejo to CdM on a daily basis to help lead the Sea Kings.
“They spend a lot of time here,” said Meyer, who considers Hettig and O’Shea to be two of the top coordinators in Orange County.
One former assistant, Kyle Collins, rejoined CdM this year.
Meyer said Collins served nine months in Kuwait as a medic with the United States Army. While away last season, Collins followed the Sea Kings, even their section title game against Garden Grove at Angel Stadium.
“I think it was 3 in the morning when the game was on there, and he was sitting in the bunker with some buddies over there and he watched it on the Internet,” Meyer said. “He stayed up all night. He was logged on to our software program, so he watched all of our games on our software and tried to stay involved that way. I think it probably just gave him a little bit of a break from the work over in Kuwait.
“We got up on [Garden Grove] early. I think he did [watch the whole game], though.”
Collins will get to follow the action in person. He’s helping the offensive line this year.
The line will be tested during the Sea Kings’ tough nonleague schedule. Each of their five opponents finished .500 or better, with El Toro, Newport Harbor and Capistrano Valley making the playoffs in their respective divisions.
The Sea Kings’ setbacks last year came in consecutive weeks at Newport Harbor and at Capistrano Valley. One of the team’s goals, besides repeating as league and section champions, is beating Newport Harbor in the annual Battle of the Bay rivalry game.
In the past two matchups, CdM led the Sailors late, only to see Newport Harbor pull off dramatic comeback wins.
Meyer said last year’s loss to the Sailors affected CdM’s chance at extending its postseason and playing in the CIF Southern California Regional Division III Bowl game, the play-in game for the state bowl game.
The Sea Kings are No. 5 in CalHiSports.com’s CIF Southern California Regional Division III Bowl preseason rankings. To move up, CdM will have to get past Newport Harbor this year.
Below are the Sea Kings who plan to end the Sailors’ six-game winning streak in the Back Bay rivalry.
•Quarterback: Luke Napolitano won the job in his senior year. He has all the physical tools, a strong and accurate arm, the frame at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and the speed to scramble and run.
“I’m sure he probably would’ve liked to be playing sooner,” Meyer said, “but, you know, he watched Brent [Lawson] run the offense [in 2011] and then he watched Cayman [Carter in 2012]. He’s been in the offense. This will be his third year now, so he’s ready.”
Napolitano, who spent last year as the punter and backup quarterback, is going to run the Sea Kings’ no-huddle, zone-read option offense. The Sea Kings averaged 32.5 points per game last year under Carter, who has walked on at Southern Methodist University.
Carter, the All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, passed for 2,210 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only six interceptions, and rushed for 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The backup quarterback this year is Peter Bush, a sophomore.
•Running backs: Cole Martin is the team’s lone returning starter in the backfield. The junior gained 10 pounds in the offseason and improved his speed.
Martin, who rushed for 452 yards and five TDs last year, can also catch the ball. He finished with 27 catches for 335 yards and two TDs.
Hugh Crance will be the other featured tailback. Meyer said Crance missed most of last season because of a concussion, but returned for the postseason.
Anthony Battista, a sophomore, will also get work.
•Receivers: The Sea Kings lost height, experience and talent with 6-5 Troy Reese and 6-2 Chris Johnstone graduating.
Bo St. Geme returns as a starter and he will line up wide in his junior season. Last year, St. Geme finished second on the team in receptions (38), yards (526) and TDs (three), earning second-team all-league laurels.
Juniors Max Chozen and Cole Collins are the other starting receivers. The Sea Kings’ starting receivers are listed at 5-10.
•Tight end: Seniors Connor Sage and Braden Brahs will split time.
Brahs, a first-year player, gives the Sea Kings size at 6-4, 215 pounds. He is a standout high jumper.
“He hasn’t taken a hit yet on a Friday night,” Meyer said of Brahs, considered one of the top athletes at the school. “But I don’t think he dropped a ball the whole camp. He’s still learning, but we’re going to be patient with him.”
•Offensive line: Three starters return in senior center Giovanni Gentosi (6-2, 234 pounds), senior right guard Brett Olson (6-1, 210) and senior right guard Ian Redman (6-7, 235).
Gentosi is an All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division pick from a year ago. The right side of the line is the Sea Kings’ strength.
The left tackle is senior Quinn Bassler (6-5, 235) and left guard is Michael Pierotti (6-3, 235).
•Defensive line: Every member of the line at some point started a game last season, except for one, Joe Anderson.
Anderson, a 5-10, 224-pound sophomore, figures to be in the rotation at nose guard with junior Mat Flores (5-11, 220). Juniors Parker Chase (6-2, 190), Justin Hess (6-1, 200) and Harrison Carter (6-2, 200) will split time at the end spots.
The ends will try to create havoc as Tim Reinhardt did last season as an All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division performer.
•Linebackers: The Sea Kings are again using a 3-3-5 stack defense. Alex Moore anchors the linebackers in the middle after a stellar junior season in which he earned All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division laurels.
Moore, who led the area with 143 tackles last year, is joined by two returning starters, junior outside linebackers Hoyt Crance and Robbie Hoffman.
•Secondary: Safeties Charlie Griffin, a senior, and Barrett Barbato, a junior, return as starters, along with junior cornerback Brett Greenlee.
Meyer said Griffin is being looked at by Harvard and Yale.
Chad Redfearn, a junior, is the other starting cornerback.
•Special teams: Three kickers are competing for the job held last year by Griff Amies, a first-team MaxPreps All-American.
They have a lot to live up to as Amies converted 22 of 30 field-goal attempts last year, tying the state single-season record for field goals made.
“It may take us a game or two to find out [who our kicker is],” said Meyer, who has Jason Neiger, Andrew Wysopal and William Hunter battling for the right to kick.
The punting duties are locked down by Napolitano. He earned All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division honors after averaging 41.2 yards per punt and placing 13 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line last season.
Hugh Crance, Battista and Martin will return kicks, and Chozen and Crance punts.
Gentosi is the long snapper.