May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Long-time football coach Mark Cunningham cherishes CdM’s state football crown

Mark Cunningham, one of CdM’s assistant coaches, celebrate the title Saturday night. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

One of Orange County’s veteran football coaches Mark Cunningham, now an assistant coach at Corona del Mar, got to experience the thrill of winning not only a CIF title, but a 1A state crown.

Cunningham, who was head coach at University for 32 years before retiring in 2017, was in the press box at Cerritos College calling plays Saturday night in CdM’s 35-27 victory over Serra which earned the Sea Kings their first CIF state title since 2013.

“It was an unbelievably great experience, going from head coaching for 37 years to become an assistant coach and watching another program and how they do things,” said Cunningham.

“It wasn’t so much about the X’s and O’s, it was about the relationships that the coaches and the kids have and the sense of community. It’s just a very, very special place and I was so fortunate to be a part of it.”

Cunningham has been the defensive backs coach the past two years. He has seen first hand how the CdM program works.

“The key to success for this team is the fact that they believe so much in each other,” he said. “And they trust each other and when things don’t go well, they still believe in themselves and believe in the coaches.”

Cunningham wrapped up his 43rd year of coaching Saturday night.

Cunningham, who used to coach against CdM when he coached the Trojans, ranked the experience of this season with the Sea Kings.

“Are you kidding, 16-0 and a CIF championship, a regional championship and a state championship, this is unbelievable, a great experience.”

RELATED: Photos and game story from Saturday’s finals

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