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La Habra lurks for the Sea Kings

November 25, 2005|By By Barry Faulkner

CdM football pre vs. La HabraHighlanders needed overtime to avert CdM's first-round playoff upset bid last season.The Corona del Mar High football team rides a four-game winning streak, including the school's first CIF Southern Section playoff victory in 10 years, into tonight's CIF Division IX quarterfinal against La Habra at Orange Coast College.

But the No. 2-seeded Highlanders enter the game kickoff with a four-year foundation of success that includes section championships in 2002 and 2003.

Tonight's game starts at 7.

La Habra (9-2), champion of the Freeway League, is 42-10 since completing a 4-5-1 season in 2000. During those four seasons, Coach Frank Mazzotta's squad is 11-1 in the playoffs. Included in that postseason roll is a 34-31 overtime win over the Sea Kings last season.

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"I don't think we're going to sneak up on them," Corona del Mar Coach Dick Freeman said, when asked if last year's near-upset would factor into this year's matchup.

Freeman said last year's clash -- in which the Sea Kings led, 14-0, 21-14 and 28-21 -- is not the only source of confidence for his players going into the playoff rematch.

"Our seniors beat them when they were freshmen [in a nonleague freshman game]," Freeman said.

La Habra, however, figures to have plenty of confidence of its own. During their current seven-game winning streak, the Highlanders have beaten teams by an average of 32 points per game. They are averaging 55.5 points the last two games, including a 56-33 first-round trouncing of Savanna. The Highlanders are averaging 44.7 points during the seven-game skein, which also included a 55-12 win over Sunny Hills an a 51-0 victory over Buena Park.

The Sea Kings have also been dominant during their recent upswing, following a four-game losing streak that included a forfeit to Calvary Chapel.

CdM has averaged 36.8 points its last four contests, while surrendering just 11 points per game. The Sea Kings scored the final 28 points in a 28-7 first-round win at Garden Grove.

CdM is led, offensively, by senior tailback Matt Loyd, who has rushed for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns on 154 carries. Despite sharing time at tailback with 6-4, 230-pound Dio Johnson in recent weeks, Loyd has averaged 197.3 rushing yards the last three games.

And while the ground game has carried the load, backup quarterback Shaun Mohler has thrown four touchdown passes the last two games, doubling the team's total over its first nine games.

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