Starting tonight, Chris Paul’s favorite baseball team — the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — begins the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
The Laguna Beach High junior hopes the Angels can make the World Series for the first time since 2002. He’s already seen them beat a team they’ve had trouble with in the postseason, the Boston Red Sox.
“I’m looking forward to this [series],” Paul said. “It’s going to be tough for us, but I think we can do it.”
Paul, though, has some different business to attend to tonight. The 2009 Orange Coast League MVP in baseball won’t be on the diamond, but on the gridiron, where the Breakers (1-4) open league play at Godinez.
His first passion may be baseball, but all year long, Paul’s been showing opposing teams how talented he is at football, too. And they can’t keep Paul out of the end zone.
The 6-foot-2 receiver has been junior quarterback Austin Paxson’s favorite target for two years now, and this year he has 34 catches for 503 yards.
He’s also caught eight touchdown passes, which brings his total to 16 for his career, surpassing Eric Fegraus’ school record of 14 touchdown catches (set from 1989-91).
Two weeks ago at Garden Grove, Paul had 15 catches, breaking Jeff Cummings’ single-game school record of 13 set in 1985. And Paul, a defensive back, is also one of Laguna Beach’s leading tacklers.
“He’s been the anchor of our defense and our offense,” Breakers Coach Jonathan Todd said. “He’s the best receiver I’ve seen since I’ve been here; he’s definitely one of the best in the county. He just makes circus catches. His body control is amazing.”
Not bad for someone who’s only in his second year on varsity and has only even been playing tackle football for three years. Paul has been playing baseball for much longer than that, though — as long as he can remember. The shortstop played club last summer with Rawlings Elite with several other players from Orange County.
It didn’t surprise Breakers baseball coach Jeff Sears that Paul, then just a sophomore, would be named the league’s best player last spring after hitting .440 with a team-high five home runs.
“He was the best player on the field, day in and day out,” Sears said. “When they’re intentionally walking a sophomore to get to a senior, there’s something special there ... He’s a pleasure to be around. Not only is he a good ballplayer, but he’s a good teammate.”
Paul was also the rare three-sport athlete last year for Laguna, also playing basketball, although he’ll skip hoops this year to concentrate on preparing for the baseball season.
His younger sister Marina, a sophomore, is no slouch herself. She’s been a starter for the Breakers girls’ volleyball team and also plays soccer.
But back to football, where Chris Paul could own just about all of the Breakers’ receiving records by the time he’s done. More importantly for him, he wants to help the Breakers win a league title this year.
In 2008 they came oh so close, falling to Costa Mesa, 38-30, in a game that essentially decided the league title.
“It was tough to take a loss like that,” Paul said. “We battled it out; we just ended up short I guess. We went down on the last drive and got to the red zone, just couldn’t put it in. It was a really tough loss.”
This year, the Breakers are finally starting to get healthy after some early injuries. And they’ll look for leadership from Paul, the familiar No. 1 in the maroon jersey who’s always sneaking into the end zone, as league play looms.
“He’s a lead-by-example guy, but he gets angry,” Todd said. “Friday nights, he has that competitiveness. He comes to play.”
Yet, Paul still remains humble.
“I’m just getting opportunities and I just try to do what I can, take advantage of those opportunities,” he said. “I have to give credit to the [offensive] line too, and Austin throws the ball great I just want to go out there and do what’s best for the team.”