May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

CdM coach Dan O’Shea reflects on remarkable journey all the way to state final

CdM Coach Dan O’Shea leads the Sea Kings into the state final game Saturday. (Photos Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Corona del Mar’s football coach Dan O’Shea knows the feeling of winning a state title. He was the defensive coordinator when the Sea Kings won the Division III title in 2013.

O’Shea, the Sea Kings head coach, would like nothing better for his team to experience the feeling this year.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

O’Shea’s Sea Kings (15-0) take on Serra of San Mateo (13-1) Saturday at 4 p.m. at Cerritos College for the CIF State 1A Championship. CdM will be looking for its second state title.

Serra defeated San Joaquin Memorial 28-18 to capture the Northern California title last weekend.

CdM is led by senior quarterback Ethan Garbers, who has passed for 4,779 yards and 67 touchdowns. Garbers has also rushed for 431 yards and 11 touchdowns.

CdM’s top receivers are John Humphreys (101 catches for 1,916 yards and 31 touchdowns), Bradley Schlom (83 catches for 1,091 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Mark Redman (64 catches for 886 yards and 13 touchdowns).

But Friday, O’Shea told OC Sports Zone there are other reasons for the success of the CdM team, which won the CIF Division 3 title by defeating Grace Brethren 56-28 on Nov. 29. CdM won the So Cal Regional title defeating Oceanside 14-7 last week. He talked about a number of subjects in the interview.

What has this week been like?

O’Shea: Why it’s so fun now, there’s nothing else to play (after this week). There’s nothing else left so the only other thing you’re thinking about is Christmas. Last night, we had the last padded practice and for many of these guys, it’s the last time they will put on their practice gear and practice jersyes and practice pants. Today was the last walk-through and the last film review.

We don’t look at it as an emotional loss, we look at it like how cool was this ride been. Now it’s time after x amount of weeks and months of preparation to go out and enjoy the setting and enjoy the experience and most importantly, it is the last time you get to share playing a game with a best friend you have at this juncture in your life.

You will never be with these guys ever again at the same time. Never. Go enjoy it, embrace it and cherish it.

What do you know about Serra?

O’Shea: They are so fundamentally sound and they play with such great technique. The offense looks just like our offense. And on the other side of the ball, they look like us. They play football the way we try and play football, with great fundamentals, great technique and incredible soundness with our schemes.

Talk about the defense which you call the no-name defense?

O’Shea: Mason Gecowets (a linebacker) is the pilot and Chandler Fincher at cornerback had his fourth interception and many people thought he sealed the deal with a little over a minute to go. But the epitome of our no-name defense is our defensive line. Each of our defensive linemen averages about 180 pounds and they’ve been going against 300 pound guys and teams that average 280 the entire playoffs. And the only reason we’ve had success and are still playing is because of that defensive line.

Their ability to play above their weight though usually outweighed by 100 pounds per man, they’re the story. Last week, I think we had seven sacks. They’re the story because if our defensive line does what they do, the linebackers end up lookng really good because they get the tackles and our defensive backs get interceptions…. It’s very complimentary in the scheme. But you look very bad as a defense if you can’t hold the line of scrimmage a. They are so athletic, they all run like linebackers.

(The defensive linemen are seniors Chase Zanck and Carter Duss, junior Connor Brooks, senior Jack Rottler and then a group O’Shea refers to as the “three-headed sophomore monster” consisting of Charlie Mannon, Gavin Scott and Dylan Wood).

Corona del Mar’s coaching staff prides itself on having all 105 players on the roster from Newport Beach. Talk about the neighhborhood concept.

O’Shea: It’s our job as a coaching staff together to make sure that the Corona del Mar football experience is without a peer in the coaching preparation, the athletic experience and the cultural spirit to be the single greatest experience of a high school football player’s life. That’s what we apsire to do because when we first got here, kids thought they had to move to Mater Dei or JSerra or wherever to go play big-time football.

We can’t sit here and whine about that. It was our job to make sure we had a program that is so unique, so family driven with local neighbors and friends, that it will turn out to be the single greatest athletic experience of their life. And when you have that as a your goal and you eventually have some success, the community begins to believe it and see it and here about it and everybody in Newport Beach wants to be a part of it.

What is the status of John Humphreys, who sat out the second half with a hamstring injury?

O’Shea: He tweaked it on the long catch so he went to see the trainer. I think he certainly could have come back and was prepared to come back if it was the last game. It was a great opportunity for some other players in our program to rise up and be challenged. I know he looks forward to getting back in front of his family and friends.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com