Corona del Mar's Ryan Griffin holds the CIF-SS Southern championship plaque high in the air as he celebrates with Jack Harris (2) after the Sea Kings beat Garden Grove, 35-10, Saturday at Angels Stadium.

CdM dominates Garden Grove in Southern final


ANAHEIM - Corona del Mar showed again that it knows how to repeat as a CIF champion, and do it with style.

Behind a stingy defense and sparkling play from quarterback Cayman Carter, the Sea Kings claimed their second consecutive CIF-SS Southern Division football title with a 35-10 victory against Garden Grove on Saturday in front of 6,878 at Angel Stadium.

The Sea Kings also claimed back-to-back CIF Division VI titles in 1988 and 1989, and now stand 4-0 all-time in CIF finals.



Corona del Mar (12-2) celebrated like it knew the drill. The student section stormed the field afterward and players took turns kissing the championship plaque.

“It’s a great moment,” Corona del Mar senior linebacker Alexi Molinari said. “We may not have the biggest kids on our team (or) the biggest kids in the division, but we play with technique and we play with heart.”

The technique certainly showed on defense. Corona del Mar defensive coordinator Dan O’Shea switched from three- and four-man fronts and shut down a Garden Grove team (11-3) that entered averaging 39.1 points.

The Argonauts became the first team to score against Corona del Mar in the playoffs, but they were held to 82 yards rushing and intercepted three times.

Middle linebacker Alex Moore set the tone by returning an interception 30 yards for touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The junior finished with a team-high eight  tackles.

“Defensively, we were pretty dominant,” Corona del Mar coach Scott Meyer said of his team’s playoff run, which included three shutouts.

Corona del Mar’s defensive unit featured standout senior end Tim Reinhardt, but also five sophomores in the starting lineup.

The Sea Kings could be contenders again next season.

“They brought it to us,” Garden Grove coach Willy Puga said of the CdM defense. “I would have liked to have started the game without a pick-six the other way.”

Corona del Mar’s championship video will also feature stellar offense and special teams.

Carter rushed for 68 yards and two TDs and also passed for 203 yards, including a spectacular 6-yard TD pass to Troy Reese in a back, corner of the end zone.

Corona del Mar’s Chris Johnstone finished with four receptions for 103 yards.

Kicker Grif Amies booted a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for his 22nd field goal of the season, tying the 1994 state record of Chris Sailer for most field goals in a season.

Amies sprinted toward Corona del Mar assistant Brad Bohn, his kicking coach, afterward.

Garden Grove linebacker Josh Vasquez suffered a neck injury on defense in the fourth quarter and was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, Puga said.

The senior was released later Saturday night, the Argonauts reported.

The Sea Kings played so well, they likely gave the selection committee for the CIF State regional football championship bowl games something to think about Sunday. The Sea Kings are in Division III and have won 10 consecutive games.

“I think we can play with anybody, but we’re going to celebrate this CIF championship,” Meyer said.

Corona del Mar’s defense flexed its muscle on the first play from scrimmage. Moore returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown just 12 seconds into the first quarter.

The Argonauts raced onto the field without a huddle and called a play-action play, but Moore grabbed the pass.

After Corona del Mar’s defense forced a punt on Garden Grove’s next possession, the Sea Kings used a 14-play, 71-yard drive to open a 14-0 lead.

Carter capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run on fourth-and-goal with 3:18 left in the first.

Corona del Mar held Garden Grove to eight yards of offense in the first quarter.

In the second, Garden Grove became the first team in the playoffs to score against the Sea Kings. The Argonauts drove from their 29 for a 24-yard field goal by Gabe Carillo.

Garden Grove settled for the field goal after having a fourth-and-goal chance from the 2 wiped out by a penalty.

Corona del Mar’s defense later forced Garden Grove to punt from its 17, but the Argonauts didn’t escape unscathed. A high snap sailed over the punter and out of the end zone for a safety and 16-3 lead for the Sea Kings with 2:30 left in the half.

The Sea Kings kept the pressure on, driving on their ensuing possession for the Reese’s 6-yard TD catch with three seconds left. Carter lofted a well-placed pass toward the back corner of the end zone for the 6-foot-5 Reese, who outjumped two defenders as the Sea Kings took a 23-3 lead at halftime.

Corona del Mar extended its lead in the third quarter on a sack for a safety by Reinhardt.

Early in the fourth, Carter capped a 15-play, 92-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run for 32-3 lead.

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