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Boys' water polo preview: Title Chase now on at CdM

Senior Chase Watson will be the man at two meters this year for Corona del Mar.

August 27, 2010|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

When he was younger, Chase Watson was a Seahawk.

Sure, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, the Corona del Mar High senior center now definitely deserves to be upgraded to a Sea King.

But Watson used to play football for Newport-Mesa Junior All-American. Back then, he played not center but the guy a few spots more outside, the tight end.

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"I was always playing with guys two years older, because I was just so big," Watson said. "Finally, at the end of the sixth grade, I exceeded the weight limit. I couldn't really play anymore, unless I wanted to play with really older guys."

At the time, Watson lived around the corner from Newport Harbor High, and he popped in to see what the junior polo program was about. He moved to Balboa Island before high school, and he entered the CdM program.

"My dad [James, better known as 'Watty'] played in high school," Watson said. "I just tried it out and I liked it and I stuck with it."

CdM Coach Barry O'Dea is happy that these stars aligned. Watson is now a three-year varsity player at center for CdM. This year he can prove that he is one of the best, if not the best, high school two-meter men in Southern California.

Watson was already getting there when he scored 68 goals last year, on his way to first-team All-Pacific Coast League and All-CIF Southern Section Division I honors. He helped lead the Sea Kings to the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals.

This year, as CdM moves to Division II and is in contention for a title, he is the guy who could help carry the Sea Kings on his broad shoulders.

"We want to be able to build an offense around Chase," O'Dea said. "I don't think anyone can guard him. He'll see a lot of drops just because of how good he is, and how big and strong he is. Last year was a breakout year. I think he'll establish himself as one of the top two-meter men in high school."

Watson won't be able to sneak under the radar anymore, as he could last year when teams tried to figure out how to stop two-time Newport-Mesa Player of the Year Max Bergeson, now at Cal. This year, teams are indeed more likely to drop on Watson.

He knows it, but he feels like opponents are going to have to pick their poison.

"A lot of guys have improved this off-season," Watson said. "We have tons of great outside shooters on our team. I'm not really worried about it."

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