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CdM short on experience

Sea Kings, coming off 10-3 season and trip to CIF semis, lost eight of 11 all-league players to graduation.

August 29, 2009|By BY BARRY FAULKNER

Corona del Mar High football coach Jason Hitchens’ eyes light up when he discusses the potential mismatches created by placing 205-pound running backs JD Abbott and Alex Swigert in the slot.

“We’d like to throw them a hitch and challenge a defensive back to try and tackle them,” Hitchens said.

But when it comes to mismatches elsewhere, the Sea Kings, who return four starters on offense, three on defense and who lost eight of their 11 All-Pacific Coast League players to graduation, might not be as concerned with exploiting them as avoiding them.

“Experience is our X factor,” said Hitchens, who guided CdM to a 10-3 record and a berth in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division semifinals in his first season at the helm in 2008, the program’s deepest postseason run since 1995.

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The Sea Kings outscored opponents, by nearly 200 points, their 361 points ranked second in school single-season annals and the 288 points scored in the regular season were a school record.

And while an off-season strength program has produced impressive results, there remain enough personnel questions to cast doubt as to whether this team can sustain the level of prowess it exhibited last fall.

All three of Corona del Mar’s losses last season came to league champions, including both Southern Division finalists.

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown:

Quarterback: Mitch Sands fueled much of the aforementioned offensive prowess last year, en route to earning Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year recognition on his way to the University of San Diego.

But senior Michael Borchard, at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, won’t represent a significant drop-off, at least athletically, Hitchens said.

“He’s the fastest kid on the team, he’s wiry strong and his arm may be stronger than [Sands’] was last year,” Hitchens said.

But Borchard, who started some games at enters unproven, having thrown just two passes, completing one for 17 yards, in mop-up duty last season.

Junior Mitch Gardner is the backup, while sophomore Brent Lawson and senior John Christian, a returning starter at receiver, also provide depth.

Junior Clark Cashion was lost for the season after sustaining a broken arm in practice.

Steve Harrington will coach the quarterbacks and assume the role of offensive coordinator from Hitchens, with whom he coached at El Modena and Villa Park high schools.

Harrington was the receivers coach at Servite last season.

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