Game Preview: Corona del Mar vs Cypress

Going into Friday's Southern Division playoff showdown with Corona del Mar, Cypress has proven that it can stop the run at a crucial time in a big game...

Going into Friday's Southern Division playoff showdown with Corona del Mar, Cypress has proven that it can stop the run at a crucial time in a big game. Corona del Mar did not.


Trailing 24-0 in the fourth quarter last week in the CIF opener against Anaheim Western, the Centurions (9-2) shocked the Pioneers with four  late TD  to capture what news reports called the biggest upset in Orange County.


Defeating Western in itself, makes Cypress the favorite, yet not by much, in this quarterfinal classic.


Corona del Mar (7-4) had to rely on every aspect of its wide-ranging talent to clip upstart Costa Mesa Estancia 44-40 last in its playoff opener.


Estancia junior Mike Morley QB ran through the Sea Kings defense to total 250 yards and 5 TD, and nearly leading the Eagles to a major upset against Corona del Mar.


"Corona del Mar has the far superior program to our's. We're still building our program," said Estancia coach Brian Barnes. "Corona del Mar has some great athletes and they can throw very well. They have a few injuries and we tried to take advantage of it."


In his team's loss, Barnes said he was most impressed with Corona del Mar receiver/returner Steve Hillgren and linebacker/RB Tommy Folks. Barnes said Sea Kings QB Taylor Hughes, who threw for 231 yards, 3 TD, was very skilled. Hillgren had a 60-yard TD punt return.


Hughes, a transfer from Santa Ana Mater Dei, proceeded to lead the Sea Kings to a 14-6 win over defending D-VI champion Newport Harbor and 41-28 against Irvine.


Corona del Mar lost three games by a total of nine points and suffered its other loss to undefeated Fullerton Troy 34-24. Estancia was able to post the most points against them.


"When we started running our option against them. I was in shock. When they stopped the option, we were able to do something else," said Barnes. "They never really stopped our option."


Barnes admitted that his Estancia team could not stop Corona del Mar's offense either. "They had more depth and were able to take advantage of three plays, which changed the game."


But Cypress, the number 3 team from the Empire League, has even more depth than Corona del Mar. If the Sea Kings don't bury Cypress early, the Centurions' now have the confidence to comeback from anything.


Cypress RB Jason Rivera topped the win over Western with 2 TD runs late in the fourth quarter. Teammate Anthony Jackson led off the fourth quarter scoring spree with a 80-yard kickoff return.


Currently, it seems every winning high school program has an excellent option QB and Cypress has Matt Kanuse, who was injured but played in losses to Empire League champion Pacifica (48-14) and runnersup La Palma Kennedy (21-7).


Kanuse has thrown for 1,000 yards, 11 TD and ran for 300 yards, 7 TD. Kanuse has thrown to Jackson 28-465, 5 TD and Josh Davidson 19-277, 3 TD. Ryan Saumer has picked up 10 yards per catch on 21 receptions.


Cypress has notched wins against highly respected Placentia Valencia, 10-6 and Santa Ana Saddleback 34-0. Friday, Cypress will narrowly add CdM to its impressive win list.

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