NEWPORT BEACH — The tide may not yet have turned in the Battle of the Bay football rivalry between Corona del Mar High and Newport Harbor. But the noticeable ripples of an oncoming Sea Kings' swell were apparent for the second straight year in the two schools' annual freshman game.
CdM, which has lost 12 of the last 13 varsity Battle of the Bay showdowns heading into Friday's clash at Newport Harbor, had dropped 10 of 11 freshmen meetings with the Sailors between 2000 and 2010.
But after a commanding 42-13 triumph by the CdM freshmen on Thursday at Newport Harbor, followed by a 33-6 CdM freshmen triumph in 2011, it may be the Sea Kings who are preparing to drop anchor on football dominance in this seaside community.
"It seems like the last three or four years, we've had a nice group of kids coming in with some Junior All-American and Pop Warner experience," CdM freshmen coach Jerry Jelnick said. "We always had the skill guys, but we didn't have the linemen. The last couple years, we've got some linemen too."
CdM, which has won 19 straight freshmen games since falling, 17-14, to Newport on Sept. 23, 2010, appeared to have a balance of power in all positions, as well as both sides of the ball.
The CdM offense scored on three of its first four possessions to help open a 23-0 first-quarter lead. The Sea Kings then scored on their first three second-half possessions to cement only its fifth freshmen victory over Newport Harbor in Sailors' Coach Joe Urban's 18 seasons at the helm.
CdM tailback Anthony Battista, whom Jelnick said attended Ensign Intermediate, located mere blocks from the Newport Harbor campus, amassed 226 rushing yards on 26 carries. Included in his workmanlike day were touchdown runs of 17, 11 and 30 yards, as well as an additional burst of 32 yards.
CdM quarterback Peter Bush, whose older brother Sam transferred from Newport Harbor to Mater Dei High after earning second-team All-Sunset League honors as a sophomore offensive tackle in 2011, threw for 98 yards and one touchdown. Bush also ran for his team's final touchdown with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
Linebackers Karl Donovan, Jason Simaan and Blake Kormos spearheaded a CdM defense that produced four sacks, allowed just 44 rushing yards on 27 attempts, and forced the game's only two turnovers, an interception and fumble recovery by safety Stephen Von Der Ahe.
CdM defenders stopped Sailors ballcarriers at or behind the line 16 times and allowed one-yard gains on three more occasions.
But CdM's no-huddle offense, which Urban said had his defense on its heels, was even more impressive.
"We preach defense, but it's the offense that really keeps us going," said Jelnick, whose squad has outscored three opponents, 125-13 this season. "We've got some playmakers. Our linemen are playing well, we've got some nice holes and we are catching and throwing the ball. We've got some weapons and we're playing together as a team."
Said Urban, "[The Sea Kings] didn't run many plays, they just ran those plays well. They outplayed us."
Urban praised his quarterback, Josh Spicer, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown, despite being consistently pressured in the pocket.
Tight end Caleb O'Neill had five catches for 61 yards for the Tars (0-3), nearly mirroring the production of CdM receiver William Hunter, who caught four passes for 64 yards and one touchdown.
"Our guys are young and a lot of them have never played, so this has to be a learning experience," said Urban, who is not ready to accept subservient status in the Back Bay football ranks.
"We'll see," Urban said. "We'll see [Friday] night."