CORONA DEL MAR
•The Corona del Mar High football team is headed to the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game for the third straight year, after Friday night's 37-14 semifinal victory at Westminster.
The top-seeded Sea Kings (13-0), seeking their third straight CIF title, will play No. 2-seeded Garden Grove (13-0) in the title game Friday at 7 p.m. at Orange Coast College. They are on quite a roll, both offensively and defensively, headed into the final, which is rematch of last year's title game.
All three of CdM's playoff victories have featured leads of 35 or more points in the fourth quarter, meaning a running clock has been used.
"We get up on teams, and it helps our defense even more," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said. "It's just been a great team run."
The running game itself has been effective, and junior Cole Martin and sophomore Anthony Battista both had rushing touchdowns in the semifinal win.
The passing attack also has been hot. In the playoffs, senior quarterback Luke Napolitano has thrown for 668 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
•Napolitano has effectively used both his receivers and his tight ends. Senior tight end Connor Sage had a four-yard touchdown catch in Friday's win. It was the second straight week that Sage had a touchdown grab.
Sage and another senior tight end, Braden Brahs, are CdM's third- and fourth-leading receivers this year, respectively. They have combined for 43 catches for 617 yards, and six touchdowns.
"We've got a tight end and an H-back, with Braden Brahs and Connor Sage," Meyer said. "Having that tight end, I think it's added a different dimension to our offense."
•Westminster threatened to take the lead on CdM early in the game. The Lions used a 14-yard quarterback keeper from Daniel Thomsen and an 18-yard run by Humberto Maciel to help take the ball to the CdM 20-yard line. But then a bad snap hurt Westminster, resulting in a five-yard loss.
That was followed by a one-yard quarterback sack by CdM's Parker Chase, bringing up third-and-16. Thomsen's run got back 11 of those yards, but the 32-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.
CdM then went on an eight-play drive capped by the touchdown pass to Sage, taking the lead and never looking back.
•Corona del Mar is ranked top 25 in the state for the second straight week by CalHiSports.com. The Sea Kings moved up a spot this week, to No. 24.
CdM also remains top-ranked in the CalHiSports CIF State Bowl Game Division III South rankings.
— Matt Szabo