After the completion of the postgame handshake line, the Laguna Beach High football players went down to one knee before their head coach John Shanahan.
In a matter of seconds, he told his team that they would go right back to practice and to get on the bus.
Understandably, Shanahan had little to say in that moment about what had unfolded in front of him.
Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep exacted its revenge against Laguna Beach in a major way, blowing out the Breakers 52-14 on Friday night in a nonleague game at Kare Park in Irwindale.
The Kares, who are ranked No. 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 12 poll, improved to 6-0 on the season. Rio Hondo Prep produced 272 rushing yards, including two rushing scores each for Jonathan Guerrero and Bryant Flores
Alex Esquiaqui had a team-high 122 rushing yards for the Kares. Gio Ortega had four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, and he added a nine-yard rushing score on a double-reverse handoff from Guerrero. Ryan McCulloch also had a rushing touchdown.
“We just came with the mentality of, ‘Don’t make the little mistakes. Don’t get the silly penalties,’” Esquiaqui said. “Last year, we lost because we made a bunch of silly mistakes and stuff like that.
“This year, we really buckled up, and we just dominated on the field. The offensive line did good.”
Laguna Beach edged Rio Hondo Prep 49-46 at home last season. Although the Kares came into Friday night’s game with an average margin of victory of 38.8 points, even they did not expect the score to wind up as lopsided as it was.
“We came into the game with confidence, but we also respected our opponent,” Ortega said. “We knew that it was going to be a tough game. We didn’t really expect this, but we’re glad it turned out like this.”
Ortega made a pair of crushing plays on tip drills in the first half. He snared the first of three interceptions for Andrew Johnson on the night when Jack Pigott had a pass deep in Kares territory go off his hands.
Later, Ortega was able to secure a 30-yard gain on a third-down pass from Jack Van Cleve. The ball deflected off of the intended receiver, with Ortega diving and making the grab just before the ball hit the ground.
“We turned the ball over early,” Shanahan said. “We had a chance to tie the game at 14-14. It’s off Pigott’s hands, it’s intercepted, and it’s like the dam burst right away from there.”
Laguna Beach (4-3) committed six turnovers on the night. Adam Penunuri had an interception and a fumble recovery. Jayden Sanchez and Eddie Perez each had a fumble recovery, and Flores added an interception.
Jackson Golden had a game-high 131 rushing yards for the Breakers, most of which came on an 81-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Pigott made five catches for 88 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown on a deep pass by Johnson down the right sideline in the first quarter.
Laguna Beach has not fared as well this season when it has been forced to put the ball in the air. Shanahan attributed that to the absence of a dynamic receiver. The graduation of Sean Nolan last year and the loss of Noah Diver to a collarbone injury against Marina certainly have not helped.
“I think a lot of it has to do with us not really having that big playmaker on offense like we did last year,” Shanahan said. “Last week, we got 20 first downs, which is typically a recipe for success, but we only scored 14 points.”
Shanahan left his starters in on offense the whole game, and he said it was a matter of building team toughness before the Breakers begin Pac 4 League play at home against Godinez on Oct. 18.
“We’ve got to get tougher as a football team,” Shanahan said. “If I show quit there, if we show quit as a coaching staff in that moment, I think it’s just going to hurt us in the long run.
“The word we used early in the year is, ‘Are we going to be tough enough to be a good football team.’ That’s still to be determined.”
Rio Hondo Prep 52, Laguna Beach 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 7 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 14
Rio Hondo Prep 14 – 14 – 17 – 7 — 52
RHP – Guerrero 8 run (Lang kick), 10:19.
LB – Pigott 57 pass from Johnson (Kesler kick), 8:38.
RHP – Flores 6 run (Lang kick), 1:49.
RHP – Ortega 9 run (Lang kick), 6:16.
RHP – Ortega 37 pass from Van Cleve (Lang kick), 1:19.
RHP – Guerrero 20 run (Lang kick), 6:57.
RHP – Flores 1 run (Lang kick), 3:47.
RHP – Lang 27 FG, 1:36.
RHP – McCulloch 13 run (Lang kick), 10:02.
LB – Golden 81 run (Kesler kick), 4:38.
LB – Golden, 15-131, 1 TD.
RHP – Esquiaqui, 9-122.
LB – Johnson, 12-24-3, 156, 1 TD.
RHP – Van Cleve, 5-12-0, 100, 1 TD.
LB – Pigott, 5-88, 1 TD.
RHP – Ortega, 4-101.
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