By Brian Lichterman | Sports Editor
Having to play a tough opponent for the second time in four games is difficult enough, but doing so in the opponent’s city is even tougher.
This was too tall of an order for the Corona del Mar Sea Kings to fill as they went down 24-3 to Beckman High School and ended their season one game short of the CIF championship game.
The Sea Kings’ defense that had been so solid the last month or so became porous, the offense just couldn’t get things going, and CdM’s pursuit of a CIF championship ended in Tustin.
As in any game, at any level of competition, giving up bunches of points late in the game will always spell disaster. Beckman erupted in the fourth quarter and scored 17 points while its defense shut out the Sea Kings the entire second half.
A second quarter field goal by Andrew Boehm was the lone score for CdM on the night, which was a season low.
The Sea Kings and Patriots had squared off in the regular season finale on Nov. 12, when CdM snuck past Beckman 17-15 in a win that gave them the outright claim to the Pacific Coast League championship for the first time since 1988.
Beckman, which finished fifth in the Pacific Coast League, played tough and deserves a ton of credit for the win. But as CdM head coach Jason Hitchens said, “I don’t think we played really well. It makes it difficult to win a football game when you can’t put points on the board.”
CdM only managed 131 yards of offense on the night and committed two turnovers, one an interception late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the game for Beckman.
However, their scoring drive was quite impressive, and at the time, looked like the start of a team falling into rhythm. In less than three minutes the Sea Kings rattled off a drive that totaled 10 plays and covered 78 yards, and they went into halftime only down 7-3, but turnovers proved too costly in the second half.
The loss also snapped the Sea Kings’ eight-game winning streak.
Beckman now moves on to the championship game to face top-seeded Garden Grove, who took out Northwood Friday, and the game will most likely be held at Orange Coast College.
The Sea Kings will now look forward to next season, where they do have a decent amount of offensive and defensive stars returning. Two notable seniors that will be departing are starting quarterback Mitch Gardner and one of Gardner’s favorite targets, receiver Clay Reinhardt.