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A much bigger prize at stake this time

Minutes within talking to his new football team for the first time, Scott Meyer brought up bringing a CIF Southern Section title to Corona del Mar High. Keep in mind that Meyer had never coached or played in a section title game.

The meeting came inside the Little Theater on campus, a couple of days before April Fool's Day. Meyer wasn't trying to trick any player in the audience with his rah-rah speech.

"We didn't know what to think when he took over," said Josh Giger, a wide receiver. "It was kind of hard to lose [Jason] Hitchens [as our coach]."

The previous coach fell short of taking the Sea Kings to the Southern Division final. Twice during Hitchens' three years in charge, CdM reached the semifinals, losing each time.

In his first year at the helm, Meyer has led CdM to its first section final appearance in 22 years. Quite a feat considering when Meyer met his team in March, he couldn't name more than a couple of players.

"I didn't know much about the kids or what we had coming back," Meyer said.

"Once we got going we just believed if we worked hard every day that good things could happen."

The one thing Meyer set out for Sea Kings to win before the season can be theirs Friday. They just have to get through a rival to earn it.

Second-seeded CdM faces top-seeded Beckman for the Southern Division crown at Orange Coast College at 7:30 p.m. The two programs meet for the second time this year.

Beckman stood in the way of CdM claiming an unbeaten Pacific Coast League title for the second straight year.

The Patriots and Sea Kings will now play for a much bigger prize.

Both teams enter with identical 11-2 records and coaches in their first years at their schools. That is where the similarities end.

Meyer's Sea Kings and Ken Mushinskie's Patriots play different brands of football.

While CdM runs a no-huddle spread offense, Beckman is all smash-mouth. The styles make for an interesting matchup.

The first contest between these two teams resulted in 79 points. In a regular-season finale, Beckman edged CdM, 42-37, at Newport Harbor High on Nov. 11.

The Patriots owned the first three quarters, building 32-point lead by pounding the ball and pounding CdM's offense, holding the Sea Kings to 10 points.

Tailbacks Jeff Kim and Brian Brooks were on their way to running over CdM to give Beckman its first league title in the program's history. The duo combined for 263 yards and two touchdowns on the ground,

As CdM has shown, the team is capable of scoring points in a flurry. Twenty-seven is how many points the Sea Kings put up in the fourth quarter.

In the final 12 minutes, running back Erik Fisher scored two rushing touchdowns and Cole Cottrell returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown, the second of his two touchdowns on special teams.

With 39 seconds left, quarterback Brent Lawson threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Giger. They just needed to recover an onside kick, then score another touchdown.

Beckman recovered the onside kick. The Sea Kings came close to pulling off one of the school's biggest comebacks. Looking back, Meyer said the outcome was decided on four plays.

"We had them in third-and-long twice and they made big plays for first downs that [resulted] in scores, and we had a couple of turnovers on offense [that resulted in interceptions returned for touchdowns]," Meyer said. "Those four plays turned into 28 points for them."

The Sea Kings cannot afford to fall behind by such a large margin again.

Meyer said Beckman is the most physical team CdM has played. That is saying something because the Sea Kings have played two close games against Sunset League teams, beating Huntington Beach, 28-21, and losing to Newport Harbor, 29-26.

The Patriots' schedule has been just as tough. Five of Beckman's opponents reached the semifinals of their respective playoff divisions.

Two of those opponents are playing for section titles. One is those teams is CdM.

"It's hard to beat a team twice, but we're confident," said Beckman quarterback Cameron Biedgoly, whose team returns to the section finale after it lost to Garden Grove, 31-30, last year.

"The goal wasn't to get to a championship game. The goal was to get there and win it."

Meyer voiced similar words when he first met his team nine months ago. The Sea Kings bought into his message and they never forgot how Beckman ended their season last year in the semifinals.

Now, the Sea Kings are one win away from getting revenge and fulfilling their goal.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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