Laguna Beach starts right


A victory on opening night would do plenty to bolster the spirits of any program, and that’s exactly what it did for the morale of the Laguna Beach High football team last week.

The Breakers began a new season in Garden Grove when they traveled Aug. 26 to take on Bolsa Grande. The game also launched the head coaching career of John Shanahan and for starters, the outcome of the nonleague contest for the Breakers had many bright moments.

Laguna struck early, fell behind the Matadors briefly, but pulled away and eased its way to a 47-18 victory at Bolsa Grande.


The night included several big performances for the Beakers including starting quarterback Curtis Harrison who turned in one of the top passing games in program history.

But with victory came a few painstaking losses, both coming on the personnel front.

Senior offensive left tackle and defensive lineman Rob Luecke went down with a knee injury late in the second quarter. Senior receiver Karam Jones suffered a broken leg at the end of a reception on a seam route in the fourth quarter.

Shanahan said Luecke is “potentially out for the season,” and that Jones, playing his first year of football, has had surgery but “hopefully can be ready to go by the playoffs.”

“It was great to get a win on the road in our first game, but we lost two good players in the process,” Shanahan said. “Those are key losses for us but we have to regroup and move forward to get ready for La Quinta.

“Overall, though, I thought we played relatively well. We lost a little focus but regained it and it’s really nice to come away with a big win.”

All Harrison did in Game 1 was throw for 298 yards (11 of 19) which is the seventh-best single-game production through the air by a Breaker. He also threw touchdown passes to junior receiver Adam Armstrong, senior receiver Ryan Blaser (two) and Jones.

The four TD passes rank tied for fourth-best in single game in program history.

Harrison also rushed for a score.

“Curtis played really, really well,” Shanahan said. “He didn’t have a lot of varsity experience but he eventually got super-comfortable in the pocket and really did a nice job.”

Laguna took the opening kickoff and started from their own 25-yard line but a five-yard penalty at the line moved the ball back five yards. Then, Harrison and Armstrong teamed on an 80-yard touchdown pass play just 11 seconds into the game.

The 80-yard scoring play ranks tied for fourth all-time in the program.

A 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Guillen to Cristian Najera and two-point conversion run by Juan Matias four minutes later gave Bolsa Grande its only lead at 8-7. The Breakers came right back by taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 72 yards for the go-ahead score. It came when Harrison connected with Blaser on a 30-yard scoring pass with 5:23 left in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, senior running back Matt Hayes scored on a three-yard run and Harrison and Blaser again hooked up through the air this time, on a 20-yard scoring pass that took the lead to 26-8 with six minutes left in the first half.

The Breakers went into halftime leading 26-8.

Laguna put the game out of reach by scoring a pair of touchdowns within a 1:32 span of the fourth quarter, two of the three TDs the Breakers would score in the quarter. The first came on a seven-yard run by Harrison, followed by a 47-yard shovel pass from Harrison to Jones on a one-possession scoring drive with 9:15 to play. In his first varsity game, freshman running back Jeremy Hayes closed out the scoring on a two-yard run with just under one minute left.

Senior Finn Moriarty had an interception late in the first half and freshman two-way lineman Kyle Juergens had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter for the Breakers who won for the 10th time against Bolsa Grande and increased their lead in the series to 10-3.

Laguna receivers had big games. Armstrong had two receptions (88 yards), Blaser four for 83 yards, Jones three for 66 yards, and freshman Sean Nolan had two catches for 61 yards. Harrison rushed 11 times for 44 yards and senior running back Bruce Knill was the Breakers’ leading ground-gainer with 48 yards on seven touches.

“We had some good contributions all around,” Shanahan said. “On defense, I thought our ends, [junior] Zach Fields and [senior] Dylan Soloff, both played a really good game. We did a good job of containing Bolsa.”

Laguna opens its home schedule Friday and hosts Westminster La Quinta at 7 p.m. at newly refurbished Guyer Field which has a new playing field and scoreboard. The game marks the season opener for the Aztecs.

Laguna Football (1-0)

47...Bolsa Grande...18

Friday: Westminster La Quinta, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9: Segerstrom, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15: at Orange (Fred Kelly Stadium, 7 p.m.)

Sept. 23: at St. Margaret’s

Oct. 7: *Godinez, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14: at *Costa Mesa, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21: *Saddleback, 7 p.m.

Oct. 27: at *Estancia, 7 p.m.

Nov. 3: *Calvary Chapel, 7 p.m.

(*denotes Orange Coast League game)