Semifinal-ity once more

Hitchens leads Sea Kings to CIF Southern Division semifinals for second time in three seasons as coach.

December 06, 2010|By David Carrillo Penaloza
  • Corona del Mar High's Erik Fisher (4) runs past Beckman defender Steven Clapp (54) Saturday at Tustin High.
Corona del Mar High's Erik Fisher (4) runs past Beckman… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

Coach Jason Hitchens' third season at Corona del Mar High ended the same way as his first.

The Sea Kings fell one game short of playing in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game.

Second-seeded CdM needed one more victory to make its first section-final appearance in 21 years. Hitchens got the Sea Kings close before they lost to Beckman, 24-3, in a semifinal game at Tustin High on Saturday.

Guiding CdM to the semis twice in three years is something Hitchens can be proud of.

"That's going to be a little disappointing," Hitchens said of exiting the postseason in the semis again. "I think when you look at the season as a whole, coming off last season, [when] we didn't win a [Pacific Coast League] game. We were picked to finish fourth in league [before this season]. We weren't even on anybody's radar. The kids came and they won the first [outright] league title in 22 years at the school. I think there's a lot that they can be proud about.


"Obviously, you would like to be in that 14th game. It was still a great season. You win 10 games. You're playing in December. There's nothing to be ashamed of. "

The Sea Kings pulled off a remarkable turnaround from a year ago.

To go from missing the playoffs last year to one victory shy of playing in the big game this year, Hitchens led the way to CdM's fourth 10-win season in the program's history.

Twenty-five seniors bought into Hitchens' plan and it worked for CdM (10-2-1). Only one team had beaten the Sea Kings before last week.

No team knocked off CdM in league play as it posted a 4-0-1 record. One of those wins came against Beckman, a fifth-place team. The two teams clashed in the regular-season finale, as the Sea Kings hung on to a 17-15 victory to clinch the outright league crown.

The second meeting between these league foes was for a lot more: a chance to move on to play for a section title.

Through three quarters, the playoff game was close. Beckman led, 7-3, but had the ball in CdM territory at the start of the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble. The Patriots converted three points off the turnover to increase their lead to 10-3 with 10:02 left to play.

All the Sea Kings needed was a touchdown and extra-point kick and the game is tied. Getting a first down against the Patriots proved difficult.

The Sea Kings went three-and-out and punted. Clay Reinhardt did his job, as he did all night, booting a 49-yard punt, leaving Beckman on its own 17.

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