By Steve Virgen
8:10 PM PST, December 1, 2012
It probably wasn't an ideal time to ask about the future of the Corona del Mar High football program, but Coach Scott Meyer is so cooperative and kind that he answered my question anyway.
Meyer's shirt was still wet after being drenched with water in celebration of the Sea Kings' second straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship. There was no need for Meyer to appear agitated as he walked off the football field at Angel Stadium on Saturday.
The thought of the future of the CdM football program brought a smile to Meyer's face. Not that it wasn't there before. After all, the Sea Kings had just captured the CIF title with a convincing 35-10 win over Garden Grove.
"We're going to enjoy this right now, but we have a ton of young guys on defense and we have some young guys on offense," said Meyer, who just completed his second season in charge at CdM. "The lower levels did well. I think the future is bright. But we're going to enjoy this one for now."
The CdM freshmen team has won 26 games in a row, including two straight 10-0 seasons. The Sea Kings' junior varsity team went 8-2 in 2011 and duplicated that mark this year.
The freshmen have competed with flair, as the mini Sea Kings are one of the few freshmen teams that run a no-huddle offense, just like the varsity.
Meyer remembers seeing the freshmen team practice the no-huddle during the summer. The offense wasn't playing against anyone, but he was still impressed.
"They looked sharp," Meyer said. "We have smart, tough kids and all our coaches do a great job with them."
Jerry Jelnick is the head coach of the freshmen team. Meyer credits Jelnick, John Griffin, Jelnick's right-hand man, and the rest of the freshmen coaching staff for providing the new players with a rewarding experience that usually leads to the players wanting more.
Meyer has his varsity assistants serve as coaches for the junior varsity team. Aaron Huerta is the head coach and defensive coordinator of the junior varsity team. Brad Bohn, Kevin Purtell and Dennis Wilbanks also contribute a great deal with the junior varsity, Meyer said.
Practices have been important. The varsity and junior varsity players train together.
"I think a lot of programs do that now because of the [participation] numbers," Meyer said. "We practice all those guys together. The way we platoon really helps all our younger guys get coached up. The young JV guys aren't ignored."
The CdM varsity defense, that posted three shutouts in the playoffs, featured just three senior starters.
The freshmen team that went 10-0 in 2011 had some big-time contributors on the varsity this season. Tailback Cole Martin, wide receiver Bo St. Geme, cornerback Brett Greenlee, safety Barrett Barbato, linebacker Robbie Hoffman, defensive end Justin Hess, linebacker Hoyt Crance, defensive end Parker Chase and linebacker Harrison Carter are sophomores who were key in the Sea Kings' championship run and they are among several non-seniors who played a big part in the winning season.
Don Grable, CdM's athletic director, is one of many excited about the future of the CdM football program.
"I love the direction it's heading," Grable said. "It's such a positive direction. They work hard, they work together, they work smart. The coaches are positive. It's a great vibe. When you go around the practices and games, you want to be a part of it. It's infectious, the enthusiasm shown by everyone. They play for each other. It's not just one person. It's not just Coach Meyer. He has a great staff."
Grable said among the keys to maintaining the success is staying humble and always striving to improve.
The varsity team had a strong schedule before league, and games like that will continue to help the program, Grable said.
Longtime CdM cross country coach Bill Sumner is leading a fundraising effort to have a new football stadium built at the school.
Certainly CIF titles are going to help the cause.
Grable, however, did not want to provide his opinion on Saturday.
"I don't want to even think about that right now," Grable said. "I'm just so happy for the kids right now that they got this accomplished. I'm just so proud of them. I'll answer that for another time."
Kicker Griff Amies tied the state record for most field goals in a season with his 43-yarder in the fourth quarter that gave him 22 field goals this year.
Amies tied Chris Sailer, the former Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and UCLA All-American kicker who set the mark in 1994.
Amies nearly broke the state record with his 57-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter when his kick came up a few yards short.
The national record for field goals in season is 25, set by Cole Hedlund of Argyle (Texas) last year.