In three Corona del Mar High football seasons, Coach Scott Meyer has accomplished more during that short span than the school had in its previous 48 years.
The third season led to many firsts for the Sea Kings. They claimed their second straight undefeated Pacific Coast League title. They finished as CIF Southern Section Southern Division champions for the third time in a row.
The third season ended in December, when the Sea Kings beat Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 27-15, in the CIF State Division III Bowl Game. They wrapped up, right before the holidays, a perfect season. The Sea Kings became the first high school football team in the state to go 16-0.
Meyer's players weren't only winners on the field. They performed in the classroom as well. The Sea Kings finished No. 1 in football and No. 1 in their sport when it came to grades.
The Sea Kings won a CIF Southern Section Academic Award in football by having a cumulative 3.35 non-weighted grade-point average, tops for schools with enrollments above 1,500 students.
The academic award meant a lot to Meyer, the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Coach of the Year. He values it as much as any win on the field.
"We played 16 weeks, and to go that deep in the season, staying late at practice and still winning the academic award, that's a pretty good accomplishment," said Meyer, who teaches economics and government at CdM. "They work really hard in the classroom and on the field, and now it's starting to pay off."
The success on the field and in the classroom has resulted in a handful of CdM players receiving invitations to summer football camps at Ivy League schools. Defensive end Harrison Carter planned to visit Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and Princeton, wide receiver Bo St. Geme Harvard and Princeton, defensive lineman Justin Hess Princeton, Dartmouth and Cornell, and safety Barrett Barbato and receiver Cole Collins both Yale.
Meyer is proud of those incoming seniors and their futures. The closest he said he ever got to an Ivy League school was at a recruiting dinner 31 years ago in downtown Los Angeles. He can now laugh about not being accepted as a senior back then in high school. Meyer said his players have a good shot of making it into an Ivy League school, as each of the eight Ivy League schools paid CdM a visit in the spring.
The interest shows the Sea Kings are more than football players. And the interest has shined a positive light on CdM after an academic cheating scandal rocked the campus this past school year. When the news broke in December, Meyer and the Sea Kings prepared for their debut in the state finals.
"I was so caught off guard when it came out," Meyer said. "I didn't think that any of our guys would [be involved]. Fortunately, none of our guys were.
"We talked to them about it. We try to remind them often, every time they make a decision, there's a consequence. If you make the right choice and do the right thing, things are going to work out for you in the end. There [are] no shortcuts. When you try to take shortcuts, you may get away with it for a while, but eventually it's going to catch up to you. Go to work. Do the right thing. Good things will happen."
Meyer learned his work ethic from his parents, Jon and Sylvia, both teachers. They influenced him to become a teacher, and his dad played a vital role in Meyer pursuing coaching.
As a kid, Meyer, a ball boy, rode on the bus when his father's Long Beach Wilson football team traveled to games. He was there in the locker room before games. He stood on the sideline during games. Meyer soaked it all in. And he liked it.
Meyer's first chance at taking over a program came at Long Beach Jordan in 2004. After one playoff appearance in six seasons, he left. While at Long Beach Jordan, he dealt with more than Xs and Os.
"They're great kids, but a lot of them are [in] single-family homes, and they need to go home and help take care of their siblings," Meyer said. "There's a lot more that they have to do off the field than just go home and study."
Meyer said the Long Beach Jordan job was challenging and rewarding. He left to spend more time with his three kids. A couple of years later, he landed his second job as a head coach, coming in 2011 at CdM, a school he knew he wouldn't have to worry about whether a player would be eligible to play.
During his three years in charge of CdM, Meyer said he hasn't lost a player to grades. He also hasn't lost many games either.
Meyer said his players are as competitive on the field as they are in the classroom. What changed is that they began to win more games than in the past, and the players thank Meyer and his staff. Meyer has guided the Sea Kings to a 40-4 overall record and 14-1 mark in league. They have won 26 consecutive games, the longest current winning streak in the state.
At 49, Meyer has become a household name in the high school coaching circles. He was named the MaxPreps.com California Division III All-State Football Team Coach of the Year, the CalHiSports.com All-State Medium Schools Coach of the Year, the CIF Southern Section Southern Division Coach of the Year, and the Orange County Coach of the Year.
"Being a head football coach definitely isn't a one-man job," said Meyer, who credits his staff, which included offensive coordinator Kevin Hettig, defensive coordinator Dan O'Shea, and assistants Dan Collins (receivers/tight ends), Dennis Wilbanks (offensive line), Aaron Huerta (secondary), Brian Pearsall (defensive line/strength and conditioning coach), Brad Bohn (running backs), Jack O'Shea (operations), Kyle Collins (offensive line), and Karif Byrd (speed) last season. "I'm really lucky. The staff that we have here is great. They all work well together and they work well with the guys on the team.
"We're excited to get back out there. It's a whole new year, a whole new team, a whole new [playoff] division [in the Southwest], a new challenge. Hopefully we're in the playoff hunt again."