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Fire fallout delays Laguna Beach

Tonight would have marked a new start for the Laguna Beach High football team.

Just being able to start up again, really, would have been a victory in itself.

The Breakers, who haven’t taken the field since playing Notre Dame of Riverside in its final nonleague game Oct. 12, were to begin defense of their Orange Coast League tonight by hosting Costa Mesa.

The game, however, has been postponed and a ban on all athletic activity throughout the county has been imposed through Sunday because of poor air quality stemming from the Santiago Canyon wildfire, the school’s athletic department announced Oct. 25.

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The league opener instead will be played Oct. 29 at Guyer Field.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Laguna had a bye week Oct. 15-19 and because of raging wildfires that began Sunday, the Breakers weren’t able to hold regular practice sessions outdoors Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Coach Jonathan Todd said his team held an indoor practice at Dugger Gym Monday and another inside the campus’ north gym Wednesday. All practices sessions were canceled Thursday and today.

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Tuesday was an off day, as classes were canceled.

“When we started off the year, this team wasn’t a physical team," Todd explained. “But as the season has gone on, this team has become very physical. These kids are ready to go out and play again, to be able to mix it up on the field. It’s been awhile since they’ve been able to go out and hit."

“I’m a little anxious about all of this. We haven’t played in quite awhile and I want the kids to get in a little hitting before our next game. But at the same time, all county teams are in the same boat."

Laguna enters Monday’s game with a 1-6 record and has dropped five consecutive games.

The Breakers also have been in a scoring slump as of late, scoring just one touchdown in their three previous games combined.

They’ve moved the ball up and down the field in recent losses to University, Capistrano Valley and Notre Dame, but were only able to reach the end zone once, and that came in the setback to Capo Valley Oct. 5.

In an effort to break out of that drought, Todd said the Breakers will return to what they do best: Run the football.

Quarterback Charley Bowman, running back Zach Smith, fullback Michael John and back-up backs Alec Jaffe and Jeremy Kaplan, will head the run game.

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“We want to establish the running game again," he said. “In our last game, I made a decision to pass the ball after we got down three or four touchdowns. But we dropped a lot of passes and it didn’t work, so I figured we’d go back to the run.

“We’ve done our best when we took advantage of our rushing attack, and that’s what we’ll focus on Friday."

Monday’s opponent, Costa Mesa, has struggled this year. The Mustangs are 0-7 and also are coming off a bye week. They last played Oct. 13 when they fell 44-0 to Rim of the World.

The Mustangs have been shutout on three occasions and have been held to 10 or fewer points in three other games.

Defensively, they yield an average of 34 points per game.

“They’ve been having a tough year but everyone in this league is 0-0 right now, so it’s a new start for everybody," Todd said. “For us, I feel as though our kids have been waiting for the start of league. Now, we have to go out and do the work.

“In our league, it comes down to which team wants it more."

The Breakers will play two games next week, Athletic Director Mike Churchill said Thursday. In addition to Monday’s clash with Costa Mesa, Laguna will host Calvary Chapel in its homecoming game Nov. 2.

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