It was Senior Night, and oh, what a night, it turned out to be for the Laguna Beach High football team.
Laguna, the second-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, played host to Godinez in an Orange Coast League game Oct. 26 that had big ramifications for both the Breakers and Grizzlies. The finished product had Laguna written all over it, as the Breakers cruised to a 42-13 victory at Guyer Field.
The win gave Laguna a piece of the OCL title, which is the 13th championship in 78 years of varsity football for the program. The Breakers (8-0-1, 4-0 in league) had a shot at becoming only the fourth Laguna team to finish the regular season without a loss when they played their final league game Thursday against Costa Mesa at Jim Scott Stadium on the Estancia campus. The score wasn't available at press time.
The last time a Laguna team finished regular season play without a loss was 44 years ago. That 1968 Hal Akins-coached squad went 9-0 during the regular season and won the Crestline League title outright, won its first playoff game, and ended the year 10-1.
The 1937 (7-0-2) and 1946 (8-0) teams, both coached by Maurice "Red" Guyer, are the only other two Laguna teams to finish a regular season without a loss.
"It was a special night for our seniors and their parents," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said. "I thought we didn't come out real focused at the beginning of the game, though. We talked at halftime about that, and I thought the kids responded well and came out and played a really good second half."
Although points scored again were no problem – Laguna has scored 40 or more in seven games, and more than 30 in all nine – the Breakers had one of their more productive outings on offense against Godinez.
Senior quarterback Larry Stewart was nine of 13 for 217 yards with three touchdowns, and also rushed for a score. Senior fullback Drake Martinez, the program's career rushing and scoring leader, racked up 103 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Two of Stewart's scoring passes went to Martinez, the other, to junior back Nathan Lancaster.
Putting up big numbers had been tough to achieve for a team that came into the game averaging less than 30 players on offense through its first eight games.
"Larry threw the ball really well," Churchill said of Stewart who is the program's career leader in passing rating, and second in career touchdown passes. "We also ran the ball well and it was the first time, all year, that we've rushed for more than 300 yards in a game. I know that sounds crazy, seeing as how many points we've scored this year."
The Breakers tore their way for 334 rushing yards on the Grizzlies. Lancaster led the way with a game-best 118 yards on only nine carries. Senior Robert Clemons gained 92 on six attempts, junior Andres De La Rosa had 16 yards, and Stewart finished with eight yards.
Laguna registered 551 yards of total offense, the fourth-highest output in a game in school history.
The Breakers were in complete command against Godinez by halftime. They took a 21-0 lead into intermission after Stewart threw touchdown passes of 65 and nine yards to Martinez, and 73 yards to Lancaster. The 73-yard pass play was the 15th longest in school history.
In the second half, Clemons and Stewart scored on runs of 50 and eight yards, respectively, in the third quarter, and Martinez capped the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Senior defensive back Robbie McInerny intercepted a pass in the third quarter that set up a Laguna scoring drive. It was the sixth interception of the year for McInerny, who now has eight in his career.
The next step for Laguna is the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The Breakers figure to draw one of the top seeds in the Southern Division bracket which will be revealed Sunday . As a league champion, they will host a first-round game at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9.
Last year, Laguna was not seeded entering postseason play, but went on to knock off two league champions (Anaheim, Segerstrom) en route to reaching the division semifinals.
"The kids were happy to win a piece of the league title on Senior Night," Churchill said. "They're excited for Costa Mesa, and then we'll start getting ready for CIF. They are really excited to be going to the playoffs."
Laguna Results (8-0-1)
Nov. 1: vs. *Costa Mesa (score not available)
Nov. 9: CIF playoff game
(*denotes Orange Coast League game)