Huntington Beach High: proud surfers

The best high school surf teams in the nation gathered this past weekend at Upper Trestles for the 5th annual National Surf League (NSL) High School Cup National Championship featuring the "Game" format.

With a new south swell delivering 3-4 foot sets all day and glassy conditions, the Huntington Beach High Oilers took home their first-ever NSL High School Cup national title by outdueling the San Dieguito Academy Mustangs in a display of some of the most progressive and innovative surfing ever seen in amateur competition as judged by a highly qualified judging crew of professional surfers.

Huntington Beach earned their way into the final game with a decisive win over defending champion Mira Costa High School in the quarterfinals and taking down Newport Harbor High in the semi-finals.

San Dieguito academy advanced to the final with a win over Malibu High in the quarterfinals and surviving a late surge from San Clemente High in the second semi-final.

This setup a rematch of the 2007 High School Cup final game in which San Dieguito took the national title over Huntington Beach. 

The coin toss was won by San Dieguito Academy and Mustang coaches Oly Norris and Jeremy Sherwin decided to surf in the bottom of each period, sending out Huntington Beach High coached by Andy Verdone into the water first.

HB High Oilers starters Christian Saenz, Kyle McGeary, Evan Kane, and Derek Peters opened the game with all scoring 5 points and above and posted a solid total period score of 23 points.

San Dieguito Academy opened the bottom of the first period with a flurry of set waves.

Mustang starters, including JD Lewis, Derrick Disney, Zane Norman, and Austin Rowe, all dropped solid scores of 5.5 and above.

JD Lewis caught a set wave from the top of the Uppers line-up and ripped the bag out of the wave with a series of carves and fins-free re-entries, complete with a claim back to the ecstatic Mustang fans on the beach.

Lewis' wave score of 8 points pushed San Dieguito to a 26-point total and a three-point lead without calling a single timeout.

The Oilers answered back in the top of the second in a major way with Christian Saenz dropping a 6.5 and Jack Boyes getting substituted in on a wide peak set wave for a 5.5.

Then the set of the entire 2-day event appeared on the horizon and Derek Peters scratched his way outside into position and on to the biggest wave of the day.

Peters launched into a series of stylish bottom turns and radical off-the-tops all the way down the point and finished with a double-fist pump claim to the Huntington Beach dugout for a 9.5 wave score - the highest of the event.

But the Oilers were not done yet. Kyle McGeary took off the next wave and launched a full rotation air 360 for an 8.0 wave score, earning the Game's Most Radical Maneuver.

Huntington finished the period with a huge score of 29.5 points.

The Mustangs looked to answer the Oiler charge in the bottom of the second, however, the ocean stopped cooperating with the team and big scorers JD Lewis and Derrick Disney were only able to drop scores of 4 and 5 points respectfully.

Coaches Norris and Sherwin used three timeouts in the period to try and get the rhythm of the ocean on their side.

Zane Norman scored a 6.0 with some clean backside snaps and Matt Lewis came off the bench to score a 5.0.

With no scores in the excellent range, San Dieguito finished the period with just 20 points and behind by 6.5 points.

Huntington solidified their lead in the top of the third with Christian Saenz scoring a 6.5 with a series of quick backside snaps on a mid-range set wave.

Peters dropped a 6.0 wave score, with McGeary and Evan Kane both dropping 5.0 scores for a 22.5 total period score and 75 points total Game score, putting the pressure on the Mustangs to deliver in the bottom of the 3rd and final period.

To win the game, San Dieguito Academy would need to score 29.5 points in the bottom of the final period. Derrick Disney did his part, dropping a 7.0 on an inside running right with a series of Parko-esque stylish power snaps.

Lewis and Norman each scored 6.5's, but the team needed to average 7.5 wave scores to take the win and were left hoping for a flurry of waves similar to Huntington's pivotal 2nd period.

With no timeouts remaining and no set waves on the horizon, the Mustang players could only sit in the lineup as the clock counted down to zero. Final score: Huntington - 75, San Dieguito - 68.

"We had a huge 2nd period and that made the difference for us," commented Huntington Beach High coach Andy Verdone, still dripping wet after receiving an ice bucket shower from his team.

"The Game format is unreal - no hassling, no fighting, the kids are out there performing for their teammates, there is no other format like it."

"I was in perfect position and was super stoked after the wave because I felt like it put our team back into the game," said Game MVP Derrick Peters on his 9.5 wave score in the second period.

"I like the Game format better; everyone gets hyped up, and it raises the performance level."

The National Surf League's staff of professional surfers, including head judge Austin Ware, Micah Byrne, Chris Abad, Kyle Knox, and CT Taylor, judged the Games.

Final Results

Saturday, June 12, 2010:
Quarter-Final Game #1
Newport Harbor High def. Carlsbad High (65-59)
Quarter-Final Game #2
Huntington Beach High def. Mira Costa High (60.5*-56.5) * 6:41 remaining
Quarter-Final Game #3
San Dieguito Academy def. Malibu High (66-58)
Quarter-Final Game #4 
San Clemente High def. Santa Cruz High (65-64.5)
Sunday, June 13, 2010:
Semi-Final Game #1
Huntington Beach High def. Newport Harbor High (75-72.5)
Semi-Final Game #2
San Dieguito Academy def. San Clemente High (68.5-68)
Final Game Box Score:
P1 P2 P3 Final
Huntington Beach High School  23 29.5 22.5 75
San Dieguito Academy  26 20 22 68

Most Valuable Player (MVP) - Derek Peters, Huntington Beach High School
Most Radical Maneuver (MRM) - Kyle McGeary, Huntington Beach High (Huge full-rotation air 360)

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