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Nine would be fine with Sea Kings

FOOTBALL: Corona del Mar attempts to extend winning streak to nine against host Laguna Beach in tonight’s season opener.

August 31, 2007|By David Carrillo Peñaloza

The 6-foot, 175-pounder can pass, posing more of a threat with his ability to take off from the pocket. Eight times he rushed for touchdowns, totaling 373 yards for the year, before leading Laguna Beach to two firsts — a league crown and playoff home game — since 1987.

There’s one area Freeman is expecting his stout defense to exploit to slow down the reigning Orange Coast League MVP.

“I don’t think they have the line to protect him,” he said of the Breakers’ small line, with a player’s average size is around 5-feet-10 and 190 pounds. “What they did last year was run a spread offense, where the quarterback could run or pass. We don’t care what they do.”

That’s because CdM’s defense is stacked with eight returning starters off a 7-5 team. Plenty of familiar faces. The one face Freeman doesn’t want to see fully is that of Erik Rask, an inside linebacker.

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A helmet will take care of that for Freeman. The 6-2, 210-pound senior returns to the field after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last October. He missed the last two regular-season games and two CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoff games.

Rask is the leader of the three-five-three defense, boasting returnees in nose guard Dan DiChiro and ends Ben Noe and Stephen Deverian, which might be able to shut out the Breakers.

The Sea Kings almost pulled off the feat against Laguna Beach in last year’s 34-7 season-opening victory before giving up a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“He’s at full speed,” Freeman said of Rask, who amassed a team-best 109 tackles before getting hurt. “His stamina is not up to where he’s usually at and we just have to get some confidence in him and that will come with playing.

“We’re ready to roll. I’m sure Laguna Beach is, too, with a new coach [Jonathan Todd] and everything. I believe he played at that school [he was a star running back]. I might have even coached against him. Who knows that kind of stuff? I don’t.”

The only thing Freeman wants to remember is that the scoreboard shows CdM, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, ahead at the end of the night. The previous six season openers for Freeman have turned out that way. It’s a memory Freeman said lasts a couple of days before preparing for next week’s game.

He doesn’t blame it on a memory lapse. Just a long football season.

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