It's been 44 years since Corona del Mar met Loara on the gridiron. After Friday's first-round game of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division football playoffs, it might be that long before the Saxons want to meet up again with the Sea Kings.
Corona del Mar, the top-seed and two-time defending champion in the division, took its first step toward another possible Southern Section title by dominating the Saxons, 44-3, at Davidson Field.
The Sea Kings (11-0) scored on their first seven possessions of the game in running their win streak to 21 games. They move on to a quarterfinal round game next week.
"Overall, I was really pleased with our offensive and defensive performances,' CdM Coach Scott Meyer said after his offense scored a season-high in points, and kept its sixth opponent to a touchdown or less on defense.
The Sea Kings were rolling on offense from the get-go. They opened up a 14-0 lead after one quarter, were in complete control by leading, 34-3, at the half, and then scored the first 10 points of the second half. The game went to a running clock for the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback Luke Napolitano was red-hot, as was junior running back Cole Martin. Napolitano threw three touchdown passes and Martin rushed for three scores, and each played less than four minutes into the second half.
Napolitano had a bevy of outstanding receivers to throw to. He finished 16 of 18 for 258 yards.
Martin rushed 11 times for 111 yards before exiting after he scored on an eight-yard run. His final TD came via an escort from his offensive line, which prodded their running back into the end zone with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Loara took the opening kickoff an marched down to the CdM 24-yard line, but on a second-down play, junior defensive end Harrison Carter caused and recovered a Saxons fumble at the 36. Three plays later, Napolitano threw into the flat to junior receiver Bo St. Geme, who cut his way through several defenders to score on a 43-yard pass play.
Martin scored for the first time on a nine-yard run with 14 seconds left in the opening quarter, and four minutes later, scored from the left side on a 20-yad run to put the score at 21-0 early in the third quarter. Loara (6-5), which tied for third-place in the Golden West League and was an at-large entry into the playoffs, got its only points on a 26-yard field goal by Andy Franco with 7:01 left in the half.
From there, Napolitano took over. He was four for four for 75 yards during a 79-yard scoring drive. His third pass during the series went to senior tight end Braden Brahs who made a great grab at the Loara 28 and went 19 more yards before being hauled down. The 43-yard pass play set the Sea Kings up at the nine. Two players later, the pair hooked up on a seven-yard touchdown pass.
After forcing another Loara punt, CdM got the ball back at its own 20 with 1:23 remaining in the half. That proved plenty of time for Napolitano who steadily drove the Sea Kings downfield. He was five for five on the drive which started with and eight-yard pass to senior tight end Connor Sage. A 16-yard pass to St. Geme took the ball out to the 44, then Napolitano and junior receiver Cole Collins teamed on a 23-yard pass play to put the ball at the Loara 33.
With 24 seconds left in the half, Napolitano found Collins at the three, and Collins went in for the score to complete a 31-yard pass play.
"We came out on that first series of the game and went down and scored, and I think that set the tone for the game," Meyer said. "We played very well in the first half."
Corona del Mar 44, Loara 3
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Loara 0 – 3 – 0 – 0 — 3
Corona del Mar 14 – 20 – 10 – 0 — 44
CdM – St. Geme 43 pass from Napolitano (Hunter kick), 7:58.
CdM – Martin 9 run (Neiger kick), ));14.
CdM – Martin 20 run (Hunter kick), 8:20.
L – Franco 26 field goal (7:01).
CdM – Brahs 7 pass from Napolitano (Neiger kick), 3:50.
CdM – Collins 31 pass from Napolitano (kick fail), 00:24.
CdM – Martin 8 run (Neiger kick), 8:08.
CdM – Neiger 35 field goal, 4:43.
L – Downs, 9-36.
CdM – Martin, 11-111, 3 TDs.
L – Gistlinck, 11-24-0, 85.
CdM – Napolitano, 16-18-0, 258, 3 TDs.
L – Velasquez, 5-53.
CdM – St. Geme, 4-103, 1 TD.