The Laguna Beach High football team hits the road for the first time this season when it travels to Garden Grove tonight to face La Quinta in nonleague play.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Bolsa Grande High.
Coach Jonathan Todd said he hopes that the Breakers can play with the same intensity they had in the second half of last Friday’s season opener against in Corona del Mar, against the Aztecs.
Following what he called a “lackluster” first-half performance, Todd lit a fire under his defense and challenged it to perform better in the second half against the Sea Kings. The Breakers responded and held Corona del Mar to just a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 26-6 loss.
“What I take away from that game is that it’s good to get that first game out of the way and under our belt,” Todd said. “We weren’t really ready for the physicality of the game, but we’ll be ready this week for La Quinta.”
Corona del Mar took a 19-6 halftime lead on Laguna, which got its lone score on a 78-yard pass play from Charley Bowman to Jason Colladay late in the first quarter.
“In the first half of that game our guys weren’t tackling well,” Todd said. “I challenged them at halftime to go out and improve upon their play in the second half, and they did that. I was really happy with the way that they responded to the challenge.
“We need to carry that over to the La Quinta game. We need to be firing on those same cylinders.”
Tonight marks the season opener for La Quinta, a team that went winless in ’07.
A few leaders for the Aztecs, who bring a 14-game losing streak into tonight’s contest, are running back Nathan Do (5-9. 185, Jr.); fullback Jonathan Rio (5-7, 150, Jr.); and receivers Eddie Martinez (5-10, 165, Sr.) and Luis Gutierrez (5-10, 170, Jr.).
“They are a lot better team than last year,” Todd said. Laguna blanked La Quinta, 18-0, last September. “I really think that they’re a significantly improved team. For us, it’s a matter of coming out and playing well right off the bat.”
Todd noted the play of Bowman, middle linebacker Danny Panduro and nose guard Michael John in last week’s Corona del Mar game.
John, a transfer from Santa Monica High, played his first game at Laguna.
“Danny had the most tackles, 11 or 12 total, in the game and was our anchor on defense,” Todd said. “He was everywhere. John was in the backfield on almost every play and, like Danny, also was all over the field. Charley was awesome on special teams. He averaged 41 yards per punt.”
Laguna, however, will be without two key components on both sides of the ball tonight, as Panduro and starting running back Zach Smith are nursing injuries.
Smith suffered a deep contusion in his leg on the Breakers’ second run from scrimmage last Friday and didn’t play the remainder of the game.
He has not practiced all week, Todd said.
Panduro suffered a deep contusion in his arm against Corona del Mar and also will be sidelined, Todd said.
Sophomore Alec Jaffe replaced Smith at running back last week and will get the start there tonight.
“I thought Alec did a good job of reading the defense last week,” Todd said.