COSTA MESA — The first place Scott Meyer checked out before he met his Corona del Mar High football team for the first time two years ago was Newport Harbor. He couldn't name any of his players back then, but he could identify the program the Sea Kings always seemed to lose to every year.
When Meyer introduced himself as the Sea Kings' coach, he told his new team about his drive to the other side of the bay. He talked about narrowing the gap between CdM and rival Newport Harbor.
Each year, with Meyer in charge, the gap narrowed, but each year the Sea Kings lost by either three points or one.
He can finally say CdM has closed the gap.
In his third year with the team, Meyer led CdM to a convincing 34-14 win against the Sailors in the Battle of the Bay game at Orange Coast College on Friday. The triumph, in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,600, ended the Sea Kings' six-game losing streak in the annual game.
This time, Meyer saw his Sea Kings finish strong against the Sailors. They didn't allow their rivals to storm back late and win yet again.
The Sea Kings (4-0), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll, shut down Newport Harbor (1-2) in the second half. Zilch is what the Sailors produced in the last two quarters, a stretch in which CdM ran off 27 points.
Tailback Cole Martin was responsible for two of the Sea Kings' second-half touchdowns. For the game, the junior ran 33 times for 194 yards.
No team has been able to stop CdM in its last 14 games. Not even the usually more physical Sailors could hang with the Sea Kings in the 52nd edition of the Battle of the Bay.
"We finally got over the hump. It's been a goal from the beginning," Meyer said. "Coach [Jeff] Brinkley's done a great job over there [at Newport Harbor] for [28 years].
"They were up [14-7] at halftime. We just kept playing and we kind of wore them out in the second half."
Before the Sailors, ranked No. 6 in the Southwest Division, left the field gassed, Brinkley exchanged words with Meyer. It didn't sound pretty. When asked what Brinkley said to him, Meyer responded with, "You're going to have to ask him."
Brinkley was in no mood to stick around. He left shortly after CdM beat the Sailors for only the 14th time.
Brinkley and one of his top players, senior Quest Truxton, turn a year older on Saturday. They won't be celebrating much, not after the Sailors' offense stalled in the second half, recording just 105 yards.
The Sea Kings' defense swarmed the Sailors in the final 24 minutes, forcing three punts and coming up with one turnover. Hoyt Crance, an outside linebacker, is the one who intercepted a pass near midfield and returned it to the Sailors' 32 late in the third quarter.
That helped set up CdM's go-ahead score. Quarterback Luke Napolitano's eight-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bo St. Geme gave the Sea Kings a 21-14 lead.
The two hooked up twice for eight-yard touchdown passes in the third quarter. Napolitano didn't throw for much, completing eight of 12 passes for 42 yards, but he also made plays with his legs. He rushed nine times for 45 yards, and he had a first-quarter touchdown from one-yard out.
Martin and CdM's offensive line moved the Sailors back the rest of the way. Martin rushed for an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, matching his jersey number. On his last run, he just kept pushing and found the end zone from six yards out with 1:20 left.
By that time, the visiting fans, who came to the game wearing white T-shirts with the words, "WE OWN IT," could take them off. On this night, the Battle of the Bay belonged to CdM.
Martin, who helped the Sea Kings win their second straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division title last year, said he never felt so good.
"Better than a CIF title right now," Martin said of how winning the rivalry game felt.
Corona del Mar 34, Newport Harbor 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 7 - 7 - 0 - 0 – 14
Corona del Mar 0 - 7 - 14 - 13 – 34
NH – Stowell 5 pass from Norris (Schultz kick), 6:24.
CdM – Napolitano 1 run (Neiger kick), 4:52.
NH – Siemonsma 3 run (Schultz kick), 2:44.
CdM – St. Geme 8 pass from Napolitano (Neiger kick), 2:43.
CdM – St. Geme 8 pass from Napolitano (Neiger kick), :05.
CdM – Martin 11 run (Neiger kick), 7:19.
CdM – Martin 6 run (kick failed), 1:20.
NH - Siemonsma, 15-80, 1 TD.
CdM - Martin, 33-194, 2 TDs.
NH - Norris, 14-22-1, 191, 1 TD.
CdM - Napolitano, 8-12-0, 42, 2 TDs.
NH – Stowell, 8-114, 1 TD.
CdM – St. Geme, 4-32, 2 TDs.