CORONA DEL MAR
•Corona del Mar High’s perfect season isn’t over.
The Sea Kings claimed an unprecedented third straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division title with a 42-21 victory against Garden Grove on Friday at Orange Coast College. The result extended CdM’s school-best winning streak to 24 games and earned the program a berth into its first CIF State Southern California Regional Division III Bowl Game.
“It’s awesome,” said Coach Scott Meyer, who in his third year in charge of the Sea Kings has led them to three CIF Southern Section Southern Division titles, two Pacific Coast League titles and a 38-4 overall record. “Each year it’s the same. It’s a new team and a great bunch of guys who have been working hard for this for a long time.”
The Sea Kings (14-0) return to OCC on Saturday to face Ojai Nordhoff (13-1) at 7:30 p.m. Nordhoff advanced by beating El Segundo, 49-21, in the CIF Southern Section Northwest Division championship.
CdM and Nordhoff are playing for a trip to the CIF State Division III Bowl Game at the Stubhub Center in Carson on Dec. 21. CdM or Nordhoff will get to meet the winner of Saturday’s CIF State Northern California Regional Division III Bowl Game between Atherton Sacred Heart Prep (12-1) and El Cerrito (12-2).
•With the game tied, 14-14, at halftime, two players sparked top-seeded CdM and made sure it, not second-seeded Garden Grove, stayed undefeated.
Sophomore tailback Anthony Battista and junior defensive end Parker Chase led the way with huge second-half performances as the Sea Kings knocked off the Argonauts in the Southern Division final for the second straight year.
Battista rushed 10 times for 143 yards and one touchdown in the final two quarters and Chase recorded four sacks.
“Parker has been playing great for us all year long,” Meyer said. “Battista was incredible running the ball. Great vision and made some huge runs for us.
“Cole [Martin has] been our workhorse [at running back] all year long, and [on Friday] just [Battista] had the hot hand for whatever reason. It’s great to have both those guys in the backfield.”
Battista and Martin gave CdM a 14-0 lead in the first 7 1/2 minutes on 20- and 15-yard touchdowns runs, respectively. The carry was Battista’s lone in the first half in which Martin rushed seven times for 35 yards.
In the second half, Battista and Martin pretty much split the carries. And Battista made a difference right away at the start of the second half.
The Sea Kings received the second-half kickoff and Battista capped a six-play, 64-yard drive with a dazzling 41-yard touchdown run, giving CdM a 21-14 lead.
“We just needed to score on the first drive,” said Battista, who would be heard from again.
After Chase registered back-to-back sacks, forcing Garden Grove, which trailed, 28-21, to punt with 6:59 left to play, Battista helped put the game away.
On the ensuing possession, CdM handed it off to Battista on its first six plays and he produced 62 yards, getting CdM to Garden Grove’s two. From there, quarterback Luke Napolitano snuck in for a touchdown with 3:33 left.
“The line just opened up great holes and I just ran through them,” said Battista, who finished with a career-high 163 yards on 11 carries. "[I] just read my blocks and the line did a great job out there.”
•The Sea Kings’ 42 points turned out to be the most scored on a Garden Grove team this year.
The Argonauts hadn’t allowed that many points in their previous three games combined. Going into their fourth Southern Division finale in five years, the Argonauts were giving up 12.1 points per game and they had shut out a half dozen teams.
Five of CdM’s six touchdowns came on the ground. Napolitano had two of them on quarterback sneaks in the fourth quarter.
Napolitano, who completed eight of 12 passes for 103 yards with an interception, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bo St. Geme in the third quarter.
Napolitano has thrown for 2,415 yards and 22 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. He is 105 yards away from breaking CdM’s single-season record of 2,519 set by Brent Lawson in 2011.
Napolitano already has CdM’s single-season completions record of 177.
The senior has also rushed for 11 touchdowns.
•Defensively, CdM slowed down a potent Garden Grove offense that went into the Southern Division final averaging 47.3 points per game.
The Sea Kings saw twin brothers Hugh and Hoyt Crance make plays in the first quarter. Hugh blocked a punt after the Argonauts went three-and-out on the game’s opening drive. On Garden Grove’s second possession, Hoyt intercepted a pass. Both plays by the Crance brothers, coming in Garden Grove territory, led to CdM touchdowns.
When the Argonauts tried to cut the deficit in half seven seconds into the second quarter on a 14-yard reverse for a touchdown by receiver Austin Christian, junior Brett Greenlee stepped up. He blocked the extra-point kick and CdM stayed ahead, 14-6.
The Sea Kings ended up sacking Garden Grove quarterback Angel Martinez six times and he finished nine of 18 for 104 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. It marked the first time Martinez, who went into the game with 2,003 yards and 29 touchdowns, was held without a passing touchdown.
Chase, junior defensive lineman Justin Hess (two sacks) and junior defensive end Harrison Carter harassed Martinez all night.
Garden Grove running back Sionne Masoe, who was averaging 111 yards and two touchdowns on the ground per game, finished with 13 yards and no touchdowns on 14 carries.
“They’ve been scoring a ton of points all year long,” Meyer said of the Argonauts, who were held to a season-low 21 points. “We had [seven] penalties [for 80 yards in the first half] and they hit some big plays. They’re a good team. They were here for a reason. It was going to be difficult to shut out a team like that.”
— David Carrillo Peñaloza
•Newport Harbor High’s first CIF Southern Section title appearance in eight years started strong and then ended wrong.
The Sailors led by seven late in the third quarter, only to see Huntington Beach come back and run away with the Southwest Division final, 42-28, at Angel Stadium on Saturday.
The Oilers outscored Newport Harbor, 28-7, in the final 12 minutes, 11 seconds of the game to claim their first section crown since 1935. The finish was one Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said he hated to see, especially for his seniors.
The Sailors (8-6) played Sunset League foe Huntington Beach (9-5) tough for the first 33 1/2 minutes. They led, 21-14, with 2:31 left in the quarter, when quarterback Cole Norris found wide receiver Keaton Cablay on a nine-yard touchdown pass.
Then everything fell apart for Newport Harbor. Huntington Beach senior Kai Ross got in the way of the Sailors winning their fourth section title under Brinkley.
Ross threw two second-half touchdown passes, the first going on a screen to running back Hunter Simmons for 12 yards with 11 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 21-21. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ross put the Oilers ahead, 28-21, with a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nolan Thompson.
Then Ross, playing cornerback, returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a 10-second span in the fourth quarter. The first, a 36-yard pick six, came at the 5:51 mark. The second was a 26-yard pick six.
Ross hurt the Sailors, completing 10 of 12 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns and rushing 11 times for 90 yards.
“Our kids battled all year. They did a great job,” said Brinkley, who dropped to 3-5 in section championship games in his 28 years with the Sailors. "[We] were a team that was picked [to finish fourth] in our league and to end up at Anaheim Stadium [to play for a section championship] for the eighth time [under me], you know, you got to give them a lot of credit for the way they performed this year.”
•The Sailors lost out on a championship for the second time in a month’s time because of Huntington Beach.
Huntington Beach prevented Newport Harbor from winning a share of the Sunset League crown on Nov. 8, when the Oilers stunned the Sailors, 40-14, in the regular-season finale. The Sailors ended up splitting second place with Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos, while Huntington Beach made the postseason because of the upset, earning one of the Southwest Division’s two at-large berths.
The Oilers, making their first section finals appearance in 20 years, finished the season on a four-game winning streak.
Since the Sunset League moved to the Southwest Division in 2012, two Huntington Beach schools, Edison and the Oilers have won it all.
•Standout receivers Quest Truxton and Cory Stowell ended their Newport Harbor senior years with remarkable numbers.
Truxton finished with 84 catches for 1,332 yards and 17 touchdowns, and Stowell with 83 catches for 1,056 yards and nine touchdowns.
Truxton and Stowell rank No. 1 and 2, respectively, in Newport Harbor’s single-season receptions list.
Quarterback Cole Norris, a junior, finished 100 yards shy of tying Newport Harbor’s single-season record of 3,057 set by Shane Foley in 1985. Norris passed for 2,957 yards and 27 touchdowns, with eight interceptions.
•Newport Harbor played for a CIF Southern Section title for the second time at Angel Stadium.
The result turned out much like the one in 2004, when the Sailors lost to Orange Lutheran, 35-6, in the Division VI championship.
The Sailors played that game at 2 p.m., just like the one against Huntington Beach on Saturday.
While Orange Lutheran ran away from Newport Harbor in the first half back then, the Oilers put the Sailors away in the fourth quarter. They outscored Newport Harbor, 21-7, in the final 12 minutes.
•Newport Harbor’s ground game couldn’t get going against the Oilers, finishing with 47 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries.
Junior Trevor Shaw scored the team’s lone touchdown on a fullback give, tying the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
The Oilers outgained Newport Harbor by 135 rushing yards.
Chance Siemonsma, a junior tailback, led the Sailors with 33 yards on 16 carries.
•Newport Harbor’s Michael Schultz had four punts land inside the Oilers’ 20-yard line and three downed inside their 10-yard line.
Schultz pinned Huntington Beach on its eight, one and seven. Nevertheless, the Oilers went on to produce touchdown drives from their eight, going 12 plays in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead at the 1:29 mark, and their seven, going six plays in the fourth quarter to go ahead, 28-21, with 6:26 left.
— David Carrillo Peñaloza