Two-Minute Drill: Third time a charm for CdM?


•The Corona del Mar High football team is headed to the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game for the third straight year, after Friday night's 37-14 semifinal victory at Westminster.

The top-seeded Sea Kings (13-0), seeking their third straight CIF title, will play No. 2-seeded Garden Grove (13-0) in the title game Friday at 7 p.m. at Orange Coast College. They are on quite a roll, both offensively and defensively, headed into the final, which is rematch of last year's title game.

All three of CdM's playoff victories have featured leads of 35 or more points in the fourth quarter, meaning a running clock has been used.

"We get up on teams, and it helps our defense even more," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said. "It's just been a great team run."

The running game itself has been effective, and junior Cole Martin and sophomore Anthony Battista both had rushing touchdowns in the semifinal win.

The passing attack also has been hot. In the playoffs, senior quarterback Luke Napolitano has thrown for 668 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.

•Napolitano has effectively used both his receivers and his tight ends. Senior tight end Connor Sage had a four-yard touchdown catch in Friday's win. It was the second straight week that Sage had a touchdown grab.

Sage and another senior tight end, Braden Brahs, are CdM's third- and fourth-leading receivers this year, respectively. They have combined for 43 catches for 617 yards, and six touchdowns.

"We've got a tight end and an H-back, with Braden Brahs and Connor Sage," Meyer said. "Having that tight end, I think it's added a different dimension to our offense."

•Westminster threatened to take the lead on CdM early in the game. The Lions used a 14-yard quarterback keeper from Daniel Thomsen and an 18-yard run by Humberto Maciel to help take the ball to the CdM 20-yard line. But then a bad snap hurt Westminster, resulting in a five-yard loss.

That was followed by a one-yard quarterback sack by CdM's Parker Chase, bringing up third-and-16. Thomsen's run got back 11 of those yards, but the 32-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.

CdM then went on an eight-play drive capped by the touchdown pass to Sage, taking the lead and never looking back.

•Corona del Mar is ranked top 25 in the state for the second straight week by The Sea Kings moved up a spot this week, to No. 24.

CdM also remains top-ranked in the CalHiSports CIF State Bowl Game Division III South rankings.

— Matt Szabo


•For the first time in eight years, Newport Harbor High is playing for a CIF Southern Section title.

The Sailors reached the Southwest Division finale by getting past Fullerton, 28-17, in the semifinals at Davidson Field last week. They beat a team from the Freeway League for the second time in as many weeks.

Next for Newport Harbor (8-5) is the championship against Huntington Beach (8-5) on Saturday at Angel Stadium at 2 p.m. The matchup features two unlikely teams from the Sunset League, the second-place Sailors and fifth-place Oilers.

"We're just happy to be there. That's the key," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said after his team beat Fullerton, the third-place team from the Freeway League. "It's nice to go back and be in the final. This will be out eighth trip there."

The Sailors have eight finals appearances under Brinkley's watch.

Brinkley, who's in his 28th season with the Sailors, is 3-4 on the big stage. His team last won the section crown in 2005, when Newport Harbor beat Placentia Valencia, 28-21, in the Division VI finale.

•The Sailors lost at Huntington Beach, 40-14, in the regular-season finale, costing them a share of the Sunset League title and allowing the Oilers to earn a berth into the Southwest Division playoffs.

At the time, the Sailors weren't 100% against the Oilers, as they were missing senior linemen Joseph Zavala and Wyatt Savisaar. During the contest, Newport Harbor lost three starters to injuries, junior tailback Chance Siemonsma (leg), senior tight end Alex De Soto (collarbone) and sophomore defensive end Caleb O'Neal (concussion).

The setback is the worst Newport Harbor has suffered this season. Since losing to the Oilers, Newport Harbor has won three straight games, all in the postseason.

•Below are the Sailors' previous seven trips to a CIF Southern Section finale under Brinkley:

1992: Irvine 30, Newport Harbor 8 (Division IV at Orange Coast College)

1994: Newport Harbor 20, Servite 15 (Division V at Orange Coast College)

1996: Santa Margarita 38, Newport Harbor 0 (Division V at Orange Coast College)

1999: Newport Harbor 19, Irvine 18 (Division VI at Orange Coast College)

2000: Irvine 14, Newport Harbor 0 (Division VI at Newport Harbor)

2004: Orange Lutheran 35, Newport Harbor 6 (Division VI at Angel Stadium)

2005: Newport Harbor 28, Valencia 21 (Division VI at Orange Coast College)

•Cory Stowell is all alone in the Newport Harbor record book for receptions in a season with 79.

The senior caught four passes for 75 yards and a touchdown last week, giving him 995 yards and eight touchdowns.

Quest Truxton, a senior, is tied for the second spot with Marc Craig at 75 receptions. Craig recorded 75 catches in 1985.

Truxton, who hauled in six passes for 45 yards and a touchdown last week, has 1,227 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Quarterback Cole Norris has thrown for 2,721 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. The junior is 337 yards away from breaking Shane Foley's school-record mark of 3,057 yards he set in 1985.

•Huntington Beach has been on a roll since stunning Newport Harbor.

The Oilers claimed their fourth straight victory, the latest a 28-21 upset of defending Southwest Division champion Edison at Orange Coast College.

Huntington Beach is making its first section finals appearance since 1993, when it had a player named Tony Gonzalez. The Oilers ended up losing to Los Alamitos, 39-21, in the Division III championship at Cerritos College.

•Newport Harbor's defense faces it third straight dual-threat quarterback in the playoffs.

Kai Ross, a senior, has completed 157 of 271 passes for 2,072 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only five interceptions. He has rushed 135 times for 718 yards and nine touchdowns.

Ross rushed 16 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns and was 10 of 13 for 91 yards and one touchdown in the Oilers' 40-14 win against the Sailors on Nov. 8.

— David Carrillo Peñaloza

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