NEWPORT BEACH — The last time Corona del Mar High and Woodbridge met on the football field, the Sea Kings entered the game perfect in Pacific Coast League play and ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll.
The Sea Kings were exactly in the same spots, undefeated in league and the top-ranked team in the division, before they played the Warriors on Friday.
The difference from last year's game and this year's game was the most recent one didn't go down to the wire.
CdM clinched the outright league title with a 33-16 victory against the Warriors at Newport Harbor High. The league crown is the Sea Kings' second in three years.
While CdM (7-2, 4-0 in league) wrapped up the league title, with the help of Irvine beating Northwood, 21-18, leaving four teams tied for second place with 2-2 records and one game left, the Sea Kings have a shot to go unbeaten in league as they did two years ago.
The Sea Kings travel to play Beckman at Tustin High next week. Last season, the rival schools played each other for the league and section championship, the Patriots claiming league and the Sea Kings the section.
"It's Beckman and CdM. I don't care what [the Patriots'] record is. They're going to come after us," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said. "We want to finish it off strong."
Meyer saw his team put away No. 5 Woodbridge (4-5, 2-2), the league favorite at the beginning of the season. The game was close at halftime, CdM taking a 6-3 lead. The field-goal fest ended once quarterback Cayman Carter began airing the ball.
Carter struggled at the start, completing only one of his six passes. Then Carter went to his biggest target, Troy Reese, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver, and finished with 207 yards and two touchdowns on 11-of-19 passing.
Reese caught seven passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his scores came in the second half, the first one on the opening drive.
On the fourth play, Reese used his height advantage to beat the smaller cornerback to the ball near the five-yard line. He ran into the end zone to complete the 34-yard pass play. The Sea Kings took a 13-3 lead two minutes into the third quarter.
Their defense gave them the ball right back, as it contained Woodbridge's bruising back, Austin DeFreitas. The defense slowed down the junior all night.
DeFreitas went into the night as the No. 3 rusher in Orange County, averaging 179 yards per game. He carried the ball 16 times for just 81 yards against CdM, his lowest output of the season.
"He's a pretty tough kid. He ran hard," CdM defensive end Tim Reinhardt said of DeFreitas, whose string of eight 100-yard games ended. "We just had to play our assignments."
When Woodbridge tried to pass, sophomore Hoyt Crance created havoc. He sacked quarterback Matt Callahan three times.
Callahan managed to throw two short touchdown passes, one to DeFreitas and Philip Hong. The nine-yard touchdown to Hong put Woodbridge in position to make it a one-score game in the third quarter.
The Warriors trailed, 19-9, late in the third. They decided to go for two to cut the deficit to eight. On the two-point try, defensive back Ryan Griffin broke up a pass and the Sea Kings never looked back.
On the ensuing kickoff, CdM began to march into Woodbridge territory, thanks to a 29-yard run by Kai Wilson, who rushed 10 times for 81 yards and one touchdown. Two plays later, Carter, who also rushed for a touchdown, found Reese on a 31-yard pass play.
This time, Reese's outstretched hands hauled in the touchdown. Nine seconds into the fourth quarter, with a 26-9 lead, the Sea Kings were on their way to handling Woodbridge. They didn't have to come from behind as they did last season to beat the Warriors, 31-30, on the road.
The Sea Kings are league champions again. The next championship they want is the one they plan to defend, the Southern Division.