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Reliving CdM's '88 drive

July 26, 2005|By: ROGER CARLSON

His high school football team was on the verge of the most

significant victory in Newport-Mesa Unified School District history

that December night at Orange Coast College, but the best was yet to

come.

Corona del Mar High's Sea Kings had forged a 10-point lead over

the defending CIF Southern Section Division VI champion, Valencia,

and time was running out when a junior reserve named Phil Holland

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made his way onto the field as part of CdM's punt coverage and the

coach jogged onto the field for last-second advice.

"What do you say," recalled the Sea Kings' coach, Dave Holland.

"Everybody does their job and we're walking home with the CIF

championship," was the gist of his short speech.

Holland looked across the huddle and found his son's eyes, a

moment the 69-year-old veteran still vividly recalls.

"It's the greatest moment of my athletic career, playing, watching

or coaching," said Holland, a disciple of Coach Don Coryell during

his playing days at Whittier College.

"Valencia called timeout when we were going to punt," continued

Holland as he recalled that year of years, 1988.

"They needed a touchdown and field goal just to tie and I put my

son in on the punt coverage team," said Holland. "It was basically

the last play of the greatest game in my life and he was there, on

the field with me. How good is that?"

Phil Holland was a dedicated, but career reserve in his junior and

senior seasons at CdM.

Moments later the Sea Kings were hoisting the CIF crown above

their heads after recording the first-ever CIF title in district

history. Sweeping to the championship was not something considered

out of the question as that season began.

The Sea Kings had won five of their last six games and advanced to

the second round of the playoffs in 1987.

CdM trailed, 12-7, deep in the fourth quarter against eventual CIF

champion Valencia before the wheels came off in an 18-7 season-ending

loss. And the roster was stocked with some 27 juniors.

For Holland, now the defensive coordinator at University High in

Mark Cunningham's program, 1987 was clearly a gratifying year. "We

just got better and better," said Holland. "We had three narrow

losses early (9-6 to San Clemente, 7-6 to Woodbridge and 14-13 to

Tustin) and it was 7-7 in the fourth quarter against Capistrano

Valley (a 27-7 loss). We sacked Todd Marinovich seven times."

Clearly Holland was breathing easy at home, behind closed doors,

as he anticipated the upcoming season.

There was good reason.

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