NEWPORT BEACH — Cheerleaders brought a huge banner out at halftime of Corona del Mar High's season opener on Friday. They raised it near the 40-yard line for everyone to see at Davidson Field.
In all caps, the sign read, "KICKING OFF THE SEASON." That is all that needed to be written.
The Sea Kings made a bold statement on the field, routing Pacifica, 35-0. They made it look easy and that has been a common occurrence during the Sea Kings' 11-game winning streak that dates back to last season.
The Sea Kings tied the program's best run in terms of wins, and they're not finished. Before the season, they talked about going undefeated in their pursuit of a third straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division title.
They got the first game out of the way with a dominating running attack turned in by Cole Martin and a stout defensive performance.
Martin rushed 18 times for a career-high 202 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line, featuring left tackle Quinn Bassler, left guard Michael Pierotti, center Giovanni Gentosi, right guard Brett Olson and right tackle Ian Redman, paved the way for the junior.
The offense got many opportunities because CdM's defense stuffed Pacifica throughout the evening, allowing just 45 yards on the ground and recording five sacks, four by defensive end Parker Chase. The defense left off where it did a year ago, when it shut out three of its four playoff opponents.
Next is a challenge for CdM, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Division preseason poll. The Sea Kings play the first of three consecutive games on the road, the first at Laguna Hills.
In order to continue its winning ways and top the program's old streak, spanning from the 1988 and '89 seasons, CdM faces a team that has beaten up teams from its league, the Pacific Coast League.
Last year, the Sea Kings actually lost to the Hawks, but Laguna Hills later forfeited the game because it used an ineligible player.
The setback turned out to be Laguna Hills' first against a Pacific Coast League team in the last seven years. The Hawks have toyed with the Pacific Coast League since 2006, going 24-1-1.
"We've got to control the line of scrimmage," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said of his team's next game.
The Sea Kings pushed around Pacifica. They created huge holes for Martin, who scored on touchdown runs of 34, 21 and 3 yards. He produced his scores in the first, second and third quarters.
Right after Martin reached 202 yards, the Sea Kings went to the air midway through the third quarter. Luke Napolitano, making his debut as the starting quarterback, threw his first touchdown. The pass, going to tight end Braden Brahs, went for 56 yards.
Brahs caught the pass over the middle, then broke a tackle and raced into the end zone. Not a bad way for Brahs, a high jumper, to impact his new team.
Brahs, a senior, finished with 72 yards on two receptions. Cole Collins, a junior, had four catches for 61 yards.
"I think for a first game we're real happy with him," Meyer said of Napolitano, a senior who completed six of 13 passes for 135 yards. "He's going to take a huge step, you know, in his growth as a quarterback by next week. I know he will. I think this helped his confidence, just getting his first win for him."
The triumph is the first of many CdM expects this year.
In all facets of the game, the Sea Kings look strong. On special teams, junior Robbie Hoffman blocked a 23-yard-field goal attempt early in the second quarter. Two of their kickers, Brahs and William Hunter, combined for four touchbacks.
Defensively in the second half, CdM only let Pacifica quarterback Nick Howard complete two of 14 passes for 21 yards. With that type of play, this appears like the start of another banner year for CdM.