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The drought is over!

Mike Sciacca

Bryce Loidolt received a phone call last Sunday.

But it wasn’t just any phone call.

It’s safe to say, it was call that every young man who has played

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football at Laguna Beach High in the past 15 years would have loved

to receive.

It was on that afternoon that Loidolt learned that the Laguna

Beach football program had earned its first CIF Southern Section

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playoff berth since 1987.

It wasn’t a crank call, either.

The futility was over.

“I knew we had a chance, but I was pretty surprised by it, to tell

you the truth. It was an awesome call to get, though,” said the

senior, a two-way starter who plays defensive back and wide receiver.

Laguna Beach (5-5) got into the Division IX playoff field as an

at-large entry and will travel tonight to face top-seed La Habra

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(9-1) in a 7 p.m. first round game.

“We don’t care who we’re playing -- we’re just happy to be going

to the playoffs,” Loidolt said. “But we want more than that: we want

to show [La Habra] that we are coming to play, that we’re not just

another wildcard team. We intend to show just how talented we are.”

Loidolt has been a three-year member of the varsity squad and is

one of a few current players to be part of two teams that have had

the most success on the gridiron since the then-Artists of 1987

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reached the second round of the playoffs.

Loidolt, a two-year member of the team’s Black Watch unit, was

part of a 2001 squad that finished 6-4 overall and posted the

school’s first winning record since that 1987 team went 10-2.

The at-large berth was going to be awarded to either Laguna Beach

or Garden Grove, said Rob Wigod, assistant commissioner of the CIF

Southern Section.

Wigod said a four-member committee considered six points of

criteria when making the selection, noting that, although both

schools finished 5-5 overall, the bid tilted in Laguna Beach’s favor

because the strength of the Pacific Coast League was considered

deeper than the Garden Grove League -- to which Garden Grove belongs

-- and because the Breakers beat a Costa Mesa team that went on to

win the Golden West League championship and finish 8-2 overall.

“It was a difficult situation, but when everything was taken into

consideration, the bid went to Laguna Beach,” Wigod said. “The

committee looked over the six criteria and came to that decision.”

Laguna Beach coach Dave Holland knew that his team was under

at-large bid consideration.

“I’m really, really excited for these kids and our school,” he

said. “It’s been a long time coming.

“Seven years ago I got here, and each year we’ve been creeping up,

making progress. I said before the season that I felt that this was

my best team so far, and their hard work and belief in themselves has

paid off.”

This is the 11th playoff appearance in 68 years of Laguna Beach

High football.

“This feels really good right now,” Loidolt said. “Last year, we

had a good team but didn’t get in; this year, we made it. I think

that this playoff berth can be used as a springboard for next year.”

Laguna Beach CIF Playoff History

1987: defeated Elsinore, 28-21; lost to St. Joseph, 20-13

1986: lost to La Sierra, 10-6

1980: lost to Corona del Mar, 22-6

1968: defeated La Quinta, 14-13; lost to Rolling Hills, 42-14

1964: defeated Bloomington, 26-0; lost to Coachella, 20-19.

1962: defeated Hemet, 14-13; defeated Santa Clara, 34-14; lost to

Brea-Olinda, 32-7.

1952: defeated Chula Vista, 19-0; lost to Brawley, 20-6

1949: lost to Bonita, 14-7

1947: defeated Fallbrook, 20-6; lost to San Luis Obispo, 33-14

1946: defeated Corona, 15-6; defeated Barstow, 20-0.

(9-9 record in 10 postseason appearances)

* MIKE SCIACCA covers sports for the Laguna Beach Coastline

Pilot. He can be reached at 494-4321 or by e-mail at

michael.sciacca@latimes.com.


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