CORONA DEL MAR 41, MURRIETA MESA 20
COSTA MESA – It seemed strange, at first, the rash of injuries that plagued the Corona del Mar football team Friday night.
A cramp here, a winded cornerback there, a dinged-up leg or arm or hand. But it made perfect sense to Coach Dan O’Shea, who chuckled about the matter: This was the first time since September that his boys had played a game in which there was no running clock in the fourth quarter.
“They’re going to be really sore,” he said. “That’s a physical team.”
Indeed, visiting Murrieta Mesa (5-6) provided the stiffest test the Sea Kings have had in their past nine games. Even then, Corona del Mar (10-1) won with ease, 41-20, to advance to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs.
“That’s a game for us,” O’Shea said. “I think the guys had some butterflies, you know, if you lose you go home.”
The butterflies did not appear to be much of a factor early on. On the fifth play of CdM’s opening drive, quarterback Chase Garbers found Billy Shaw in the end zone for a touchdown.
That was the first in a string of four consecutive TD drives for the Sea Kings – including a 6-yard run by Garbers, a 25-yard run from JT Murphy, and a 36-yard pass from Garbers to Murphy – which produced a 34-13 halftime lead.
By that point, many CdM faithful began turning their attention to the Palm Springs-Colony game. Colony prevailed, 22-13, and will face CdM at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ontario.
Murrieta’s first playoff appearance was a short-lived one, though impressive nonetheless, as quarterback Jeff Miller threw for nearly 300 yards while the defense held CdM to just 7 second-half points.
“I don’t know if the scoreboard reflects the things they did on offense,” O’Shea said. “I have a lot of admiration for that coaching staff.”
TRAVIS MEWHIRTER, Contributing writer