By Martin Henderson
Corona del Mar won its 24th consecutive game and third consecutive Southern Section championship on Friday in a battle of top-seeded unbeatens.
CdM was the No. 1 team in the division, and likely earns itself a spot in the State Bowl Championship tournament after knocking off second-seeded Garden Grove for the second year in a row. The Sea Kings won last year, 35-14.
Score: Corona del Mar 42, Garden Grove 21
Key Stats: Sophomore Anthony Battista carried 11 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense set up CdM for scoring drives of 34, 21 and 11 yards.
Pivotal Moment: With 9:45 left in the third quarter, CdM truly discovered Anthony Battista—who carried for a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter—after he ran for a 41-yard score and a 21-14 lead. Two carries and Battista had two touchdowns, and it planted the seed that Battista might be the best offensive tool in CdM’s arsenal. And he was. He was the difference in the game.
Quotable: “We came in thinking we were going to blow them out, a little bit,” said Parker Chase, junior defensive end for Corona del Mar. “We’re excited about the state title. It’s a big deal.”
Quotable II: “They deserve to be three-time champion,” said Willy Puga, Garden Grove’s coach. “We ran out of gas.”
Quotable III: “We talked at halftime and told them to settle down, let’s go back out there and do what we do—let’s settle down and play our football,” Corona del Mar coach Scott Meyer said. “We’re going to enjoy this tonight and hopefully, Sunday they’ll call our name” for the State Bowl Championship.
Records: Corona del Mar (14-0), Garden Grove (13-1)
Notes: Parker Chase had four sacks for CdM, which limited Garden Grove to 144 yards passing and Argonaut running back Sione Masoe to 20 yards rushing in 16 carries. … Chase had 10 sacks going into the game. … The CdM defense and special teams played a huge role. A blocked punt, and then an interception, on Garden Grove’s first two possessions set up scoring drives of 34 and 21 yards for a 14-0 lead. … CdM’s Hugh Crance blocked the punt, and Hoyt Crance intercepted the pass and returned it 16 yards. … Garden Grove was impressive the way it came back from the early deficit. It drove 70 yards and pulled to 14-6 on a double reverse to Austin Christian that covered 14 yards, and a halfback pass from Sione Masoe to Alejandro Ceja completed a 13-play, 80-yard drive; quarterback Angel Martinez’s run on the two-point conversion made it 14-14. …
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CdM scored on its first two possessions of the second half, on drives of 64 and 81 yards. Battista scored from 41 to cap the first drive, and had three consecutive carries for 40 yards to get the ball to the 11, from where Luke Napolitano passed to wide open Bo St. Geme for a 28-14 cushion. … The game was closer than the score. CdM tacked on a touchdown with 42 seconds left, completing an 11-yard scoring drive after Garden Grove turned the ball over on downs. … Napolitano scored the last two TDs for CdM, rushing from 2 yards and 1 yard. … The 2-yard score deprived Battista of a touchdown he deserved; he carried the first six plays of the drive for 64 yards. However, by Napolitano scoring, it protected Battista’s rushing average, 14.8 yards per carry. … Napolitano was eight of 12 for 98 yards, an interception in the end zone at the end of the first half, and a touchdown. … Dual threat quarterback Angel Martinez was sacked five times by the CdM defense. He rushed 16 times for 10 yards, and completed eight of 17 passes for 104 with an interception. … Masoe had averaged 8.9 yards per carry going into the game. … This was the most points Garden Grove allowed in a game this season, and it was the most points CdM allowed this season (it beat El Toro, 24-21, and Northwood, 35-21). … CdM won the last three section titles. Garden Grove won the year before that, beating Beckman, 31-30. Grove lost the 2009 game to La Mirada, 49-27, after the Argo quarterback was knocked out of the game. … Garden Grove has been to the finals four of the last five years. … Don't count Corona del Mar out of a fourth title. The Sea Kings have only one senior starter on defense. ... The State CIF will announce on Sunday the teams that will advance to the State Bowl Championship. CdM is ranked No. 1 in the South in Division III.