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Lawson shines in opener

Daily Pilot High School Football Player of the Week

Senior quarterback, who had one start last year, throws three TD passes in 40-7 victory against Savanna.

September 07, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Brent Lawson's debut as the starting quarterback for Corona del Mar High wasn't last week. His first shot came last year, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

Lawson said he wasn't as nervous last week in the Sea Kings' season opener as he felt when he got the call for last year's playoff opener.

On a Monday, three days after the team wrapped up its first outright league title in 22 years, the coach called Lawson into his office. Jason Hitchens had already talked to the starter, Mitch Gardner, one of Lawson's best friends, who helped CdM go unbeaten in league.

Hitchens then gave Lawson, the backup, the shocking news.

"He pulled me in and told me that I'm going to start the game," said Lawson, who was as surprised as he was excited about the opportunity. "I had to lead the team. It was a big change."

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The job was Lawson's for one quarter.

Hitchens replaced Lawson with Gardner, his starter all year long. To this day, Lawson said he has no idea why he didn't get to finish what he started.

The Sea Kings led Ocean View, 7-6, after the first quarter. All Lawson heard after that from Hitchens was, "We're going with Mitch."

"I thought I was doing pretty well," said Lawson, who watched Gardner help CdM beat Ocean View, 21-13. "I kind of starting getting into rhythm."

With Hitchens no longer around, Lawson earned his chance to enter this season where he left off in the last one.

And Lawson found his groove as the Sea Kings' signal caller in the first game of the year. The senior threw three touchdown passes and completed 11-of-19 passes for 199 yards, and ran for 41 yards, helping CdM rout host Savanna, 40-7.

The performance turned in by Lawson impressed Scott Meyer, who's in his first year at the helm at CdM, as well as last year's starting quarterback.

Gardner and Lawson remain close. Lawson taking over at quarterback in the first round of the playoffs didn't come between the two.

But the two don't like talking about what happened.

Gardner is at Chico State, where he plans to play baseball, but he and Lawson talk on the phone and text each other a lot during the week. Before last week's game, the two chatted on Facebook.

When two quarterbacks interact, the former gives the current one advice. Lawson is all for getting better. He remembers how Gardner last year threw for 1,635 yards and 19 touchdowns, both area bests.

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