COSTA MESA — Of all the players this week, Corona del Mar High's Aaron White talked a lot. The football team was about to play in the program's first CIF Southern Section title game in 22 years.
The opponent, Beckman, heard him loud and clear.
White admitted he and the defense weren't ready for Beckman's double-wing offense last month. No excuses, this time, White offered.
Boy, was White prepared to make a stand against the Patriots with the Southern Division finale on the line at Orange Coast College on Friday night.
The Sea Kings gave up a touchdown with seven seconds to go, cutting their lead to one. An extra-point kick ties it and Beckman and CdM are heading to overtime.
The Patriots weren't going out as they did last season in the section title game, losing on a two-point conversion in the waning seconds. They went for the win, attempting a two-point conversion.
White read the running play and stopped running back Jeff Kim in his tracks. White and the Sea Kings rose out of the pile, racing to celebrate a 14-13 triumph in the biggest game of their high school careers.
"We just had to hit him in the mouth," said White, an outside linebacker, who had one sack and finished the year with 17.
White and second-seeded CdM never backed down against a physical Beckman program all evening.
They remembered how the Patriots ended CdM's season in the semis last year, how the Patriots ended CdM's Pacific Coast League title hopes in the regular-season finale this year.
The Sea Kings weren't going to be denied in claiming the prize that matters the most, a section crown.
"I'm so excited right now," said White before yelling, "I'm going to Disneyland! I'm going to Disneyland!"
White earned the trip to Anaheim and the game ball.
When top-seeded Beckman (11-3) tried an onside kick after White stuffed the two-point attempt, there was White on special teams recovering the onside kick. He was everywhere.
What a ride for CdM (12-2) in Coach Scott Meyer's first year at the school. From Day One, he talked about leading the Sea Kings to the big dance after they failed in the semifinals in two of the previous three seasons.
Someone asked what the title meant to CdM.
"It's been 22 years," said a soaked Meyer, who had never won a section title as a player or coach.
The coach deserved the Gatorade bath after CdM won its 12th game of the year. Only one other team at the school has won 12 games, the 1988 one, and that was the first of back-to-back section titles for the Sea Kings.
Meyer was already looking to next year. He will lose talented seniors like White, quarterback Brent Lawson, running back Erik Fisher, cornerback Cole Cottrell, linebacker Grant Garrett and wide receiver Josh Giger.
All those players mentioned contributed in ending Beckman's 10-game winning streak.