ANAHEIM — Game day for the Corona del Mar High football team began inside the program's fieldhouse. Players rolled in at 9 a.m., much earlier than any game this year.
Saturday's game started at 2 p.m. and it wasn't just any game.
Before the Sea Kings boarded the bus for Angel Stadium to play in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division title game for the second straight year, they ate breakfast. At this point, Coach Scott Meyer said the nerves set in.
"It's a big game and a big stadium," Meyer said. "It must be one of those pre-game butterflies."
Getting a defensive touchdown on the first play from scrimmage can shake off the nerves for a coach trying to lead a team to back-to-back section titles.
As the defense has done throughout the playoffs, Meyer saw it set the tone for CdM early. The unit didn't record a fourth straight shutout in the postseason, but top-seeded CdM turned in another dominant performance in a 35-10 win against No. 3 Garden Grove in front of 6,878 fans.
Two years as the leader of the Sea Kings and Meyer has guided them to two section crowns.
Before this season, Meyer joked that CdM was destined to repeat. When the program wins section championships, it does so in consecutive years.
For someone who hasn't been around CdM that long, Meyer is well aware of the school's history. The last time CdM won two straight section titles, it also only gave up 10 points in the 1989 finale after blanking the first three postseason opponents.
When the players gathered for team pictures, some players yelled "Three-peat!" instead of cheese. No CdM team has claimed three consecutive section titles.
"We'll definitely talk about that," Meyer said of making another run. "We have a lot of work to do in the off-season. We're going to celebrate this one right now."
And rightfully so.
For the second year in a row, the Sea Kings closed out the year 12-2 and as Southern Division champions. They didn't need to sweat this championship game out like last year's 14-13 victory against Beckman.
Twelve seconds into this year's title tilt, CdM found the end zone. The points were the first for the Sea Kings in the first quarter of any postseason game.
Leave it to the defense to produce the touchdown.
On first down, the Argonauts came out with a play-action pass and linebacker Alex Moore made his normal drop. Moore wasn't the intended receiver on quarterback Angel Martinez's pass, but it sure looked like it.
Moore picked off the pass at the 30-yard line and he said all he could think about was getting into the end zone as fast as possible. Before racing in for a pick six, the junior side-stepped Martinez near the five-yard line.
The defense made it a long afternoon for Martinez – with defensive backs Brett Greenlee and Barrett Barbato picking off Martinez as well and linemen Tim Reinhardt and Greg Williford sacking him – and whoever handled the ball for Garden Grove (11-3).
While the Sea Kings' three-game shutout streak in the playoffs ended midway through the second quarter, the defense was responsible for 10 of CdM's points. Six points on the interception return for a touchdown and four points on two safeties.
"I think we peaked at the right time," said Moore, who finished with eight tackles and was part of a defense that only gave up one touchdown in the postseason.