May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Undefeated CdM headed to state final after defeating Oceanside 14-7 in regional

CdM players including No. 81 Mark Redman celebrate after Saturday’s victory. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

All season long the Corona del Mar offense has amassed large numbers as the Sea Kings rolled over one opponent after another.

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

However on Saturday night, it was the CdM defense that shined as the Sea Kings survived five turnovers and held on to defeat Oceanside 14-7 in a CIF Division 1A Regional Bowl championship game at Newport Harbor High.

CdM (15-0) remained unbeaten and advances to next Saturday’s state final and will play the Serra Padres (13-1) from San Mateo, Calif. at Cerritos College at 4 p.m.  

The Sea Kings defense, led by linebacker Mason Gecowets, defensive linemen Thomas Bouda, Gavin Scott and Carter Duss and defensive back Chandler Fincher came up huge time and time again as they turned away the Pirates, including two heroic goal line stands in the final 90 seconds of the game.

With 1:35 to play, Fincher intercepted a Jakob Harris pass on the 11th play of Oceanside’s drive at the Sea Kings one-yard line to foil the Pirates last minute effort to tie the score.

It appeared the CdM would run out the clock and win the game, however quarterback Ethan Garbers mishandled the ball and Oceanside recovered a fumble at the 2-yard line with 36 seconds remaining.

Mark Redman and Bouda made key tackles for losses on the Pirates ensuing first two plays. The third play was an incomplete play and then on fourth down, CDM was flagged for pass interference, giving Oceanside a first-down at the 4-yard line. 

After the Pirates failed to score on their first three tries, Gecowets stopped Oceanside running back Kavika Tua at the one-yard line on a fourth down run, denying him the end zone with 18 seconds left in the game. The Sea Kings then ran out the clock out to secure the win.

“I knew I wasn’t letting him get into the end zone on the last play,” Gecowets said. “The defense made up our minds, they weren’t getting in.”

“We kept sticking and sticking,” said Fincher. “We felt we might have to do it again and we were up to the task.”

Sea Kings coach Dan O’Shea said his team was flat for most of the game.

“We had a hangover from last week’s (CIF title) game,” said O’Shea. “It’s hard to maintain that emotional edge after a win like that, but I loved the way we fought through adversity. We’ll go in and look at the film this week and make corrections and we’ll be back next week.”

After a scoreless first half, the Pirates put together their best drive of the game midway through the third quarter as they marched 72 yards in 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Tua raced in from five yards to give Oceanside the game’s first score with 2:41 left in the quarter. 

Late in the quarter, CdM countered with a 6-play, 65-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. Garbers threw a short pass to Simon Hall who spun away from a would-be tackler and sprinted 30 yards untouched into the end zone. 

“I told Ethan the D-back’s been driving at me the whole game and I think we can beat him,” said Hall. 

Following a crucial sack by Bouda early in the fourth quarter, Garbers guided CdM on a short drive that he capped off with a 1-yard TD run, giving the Sea Kings a 14-7 lead with 8:03 to play.

Washington-bound Garbers tied the CIF record for touchdown passes (67) in a single season.

“I did not have the feel tonight,” said Garbers, who completed 10 of 21 passes for 156 yards and a rushing touchdown.  “Our defense won this game for us. They played their butts off.”

The Sea Kings didn’t score 40 points in a game for only the second time this season. 

The Pirates, who captured the San Diego CIF Division 1 championship by defeating Lincoln last week, finishes the season at 11-4. Oceanside had won each of their four playoffs games on the road prior to Saturday’s contest.

Defenses dominated the first half. The Sea Kings had two excellent opportunities to get on the board but turned the ball over three times in the first 24 minutes of the game.

Midway through the first quarter, Garbers completed two long passes on back-to-back plays to John Humphreys, his second catch taking the ball to the Pirates one-yard line. However, following an incomplete pass, CdM fumbled the ball on an inside handoff and Oceanside recovered to stall the Sea Kings drive.

Early in the second quarter, Riley Binnquist lost the handle on the ball following a nice gain. Once again, the Pirates jumped on the loose ball, this time at their 36-yard line, foiling another CdM promising drive.

With time winding down in the first half, Garbers rolled out of the pocket and was hit from behind causing him to loose the ball. Oceanside Cannon Belew recovered the fumble at the Sea Kings 29–yard line with 1:55 to play in the first half. 

The Pirates moved the ball to the Sea Kings 10-yard line with 10 seconds left in the half but had run out of timeouts and were unable to stop the clock. Instead of attempting a field goal, the Pirates elected to go for the touchdown on the final play of half, but Harris’ pass fell incomplete in the end zone and the opening half ended in a 0-0 tie.

CdM edged the Pirates slightly in offensive yards, 118–109, in the first half.  The Sea Kings had five sacks in the game.

Garbers completed only 6 of 15 passes for 82 yards in the first half. Oceanside’s runningback Kavika Tua led all rushers with 71 yards on 11 carries in the first half and finished the game with 146 yards rushing.  


RUSHING: O, Tua 28-146, Jaime 5-30; CdM, Binnquist 11-46, Garbers 8-39.

PASSING: O, Harris 15-23-1, 92 yards; CdM Garbers, 10-21-0, 156 yards, TD.

RECEIVING: O, Beacham 7-51, Williams 2-21.


-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone