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Corona del Mar football crushes stereotypes and opponents alike – Orange County Register

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NEWPORT BEACH — They’ve heard it all before.

They’ve heard it so much that they like it, the stuff about the BMWs and the silver spoons and the creature comforts that don’t usually fit such a painful game.

The Corona del Mar Sea Kings are 117-19-2 in the past 10 seasons, 14-0 this year as they prepare for Oceanside in a state semifinal on Saturday.

Their coaches sat around a classroom Thursday, talking about memorable wins, like Newport Harbor in 2013 and San Clemente in 2018 and Huntington Beach in 2011.

John Griffin, whom head coach Dan O’Shea calls “the director of football operations, because he hates that,” thought of a night at Alemany, when the Sea Kings sprang their usual surprise.

“We’re walking out and an older man is standing there and says, ‘Damn, when y’all showed up in baby blue jerseys and those surfer boy haircuts, I thought we were going to roll you.’  And then he gave us a hug,” Griffin said.

Kevin Hettig, the offensive coordinator, says it’s a unicorn, a bunch of local kids who largely played together as kids and never wanted to stop.

Grant and Angelique Garbers told their son Chase that he could play at Mater Dei if he wanted. He didn’t, and now he quarterbacks Cal.

Chase’s brother Ethan was the ballboy and now he’s the quarterback. John Humphreys is one of three lights-out receivers. He’ll be at Stanford next year, and Ethan at Washington. John’s brother Ben played at Mater Dei and then Duke.

“Matt Barkley lived down the street,” O’Shea said, speaking of the all-everything quarterback from Mater Dei and USC. “Ben looked up to him. Now kids look up to Chase and Ethan and John. And Ben will tell you now he’d rather have played here, looking back.”

All this football is thriving in the most unlikely habitat.

The 92625 zip code was the 14th richest in America last year, with a median home price of $2.8 million. This should be ground zero for Footballphobia, a virus that spreads among moms.

And yet football is cool at CdM. O’Shea said there were 93 freshmen who showed up two years ago. There are 166 players in the program, all told.

Angelique Garbers is mom to Chase and Ethan and, really, all the rest. “She’s the general manager,” said Brian Pearsall, the defensive coordinator. “She runs the show.”

Team meals, email loops, shifts at the concession stand, they’re all in Angelique’s bailiwick. Somehow Grant and Angelique coordinated their schedules so that both made almost every  CdM and Cal game.

“There are parents who are afraid of football,” Angelique said. “They’ll say, ‘What do you think?’ I’m the wrong person to ask. Our kids have played since they were seven.”

Winning has wiped out fear. In last year’s CIF Southern Section final against Grace Brethren, several Sea Kings were blocking players 100 pounds heavier or, worse yet, getting blocked.

“I remember the eyes,” Pearsall said. “The defense came off the field last year and the guys were saying, ‘Uh, coach … what do you want us to do?’ They basically picked us up and threw us down the field.”

“Every day in the weight room, they were saying, ‘This is how I’m going to block that big guy from Grace,’” Hettig said.

Last year Grace won 26-14. This year CdM won 56-28, with touchdowns on its first eight possessions.

O’Shea vaccinates against Footballphobia. The Sea Kings avoid contact in practice. Instead of tackling the ball carrier, the defenders “fit” their way into the play. The whistle blows immediately.

“We don’t have guys on the ground,” O’Shea said. “There’s no need for it. We’ve had two concussions the whole season, none at practice.”

But the coaches were wary of the other disease, Affluenza, when they came from Trabuco Hills eight years ago.

They soon learned that wealth actually works against laziness and that high motors in the classroom translated to the field. The Sea Kings have obstacles, such as practicing at Costa Mesa or Newport Harbor because of a renovated practice field. Motivation isn’t one.

“From the day we got here, they were as tough as nails,” Hettig said.

“We’ve had to make them run just once, all these years,” Pearsall said, “and that’s after they finally beat Newport Harbor and they weren’t focused on the next game.”

“And they play for each other,” O’Shea said. “Guys aren’t trying to transfer. We like the kids that just show up on their skateboards, and then get picked up by mom and dad.”

So why shouldn’t football carry such appreciation? In Corona del Mar, everything does.


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Jeff Stearman

Jeff has experienced much success in his many years as a Realtor, consistently ranking in the Top 1% of Realtors nationally as well as the Top Agent locally. Jeff also has an MBA and Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation and is Certified Short Sale Specialist and Distressed Property Negotiator and Expert. Jeff has a firm grasp on today’s real estate market and is an expert in all areas of residential real estate, including: traditional sales, residential income properties, vacation properties, luxury homes, as well as distressed properties. Additionally, with his background in mortgage & financial consulting, Jeff can help you understand the numbers side of real estate and offer valuable advice on the different types of home loans and financing options that you could take advantage of. His clients say: "If you want something done, ask a busy Realtor.” The Stearman Group has successfully sold over 3,000 homes because they carefully work with their clients to create successful solutions. They strive to solve your individual housing needs-one client at a time. His team gives only the Best Personalized Service to each of their clients every single time.

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