Laguna Beach football beats Diamond Bar in CIF championship, ends 76-year title drought
The sounds of their shouts could not be drowned out by the neighboring highway, as the Laguna Beach High football team celebrated a feat last accomplished by the program generations ago.
Laguna Beach defeated host Diamond Bar 36-28 in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 final, giving the school its first football championship since 1946.
“It’s a special moment that none of us ever really expected and you can’t really put into words until you experience it,” Myles Freeman, a senior wide receiver and defensive back for the Breakers, said. “I’m just so grateful to experience it with this group of guys and these coaches.”
A dominant third quarter proved the difference in the game for Laguna Beach (11-3), fueled by impactful plays on defense and special teams. The Breakers produced two interceptions, a fumble recovery, a blocked punt and two sacks in the period.
Marcus Heins had the first interception, setting up Laguna Beach just outside the red zone. Three plays later, Jackson Kollock passed to Nick Rogers coming out of the backfield for a 26-yard touchdown, giving the Breakers a 17-7 advantage.
On the ensuing kickoff, Freeman hopped on a fumble. Although the Breakers couldn’t capitalize, it was not long before they were heard from again. Senior linebacker Micah Chavez sacked Ryan Lewis to halt the Brahmas’ next possession.
The punt that followed was blocked by Chase Tyson, and Chavez picked up the ball and crossed the goal line to add to the lead.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Chavez, who had two sacks. “I was like, ‘Is this [ball] actually in my hands?’ At first, I thought, ‘Is there anyone behind me?’ It felt good to cross that end zone for the first time ever in my career and just be able to celebrate.”
Diamond Bar (12-2) had the ball for just two plays on its next drive. It started with a Brock Donaldson sack, and then Jeremy Kanter intercepted a pass to give the Breakers field position at the 12-yard line.
Three handoffs to Rogers, and Laguna Beach had built its lead up to 30-7.
“Everyone was so happy,” Kanter, a senior, said of his team’s defensive performance. “We were all hugging each other on the sideline. All three linebackers got interceptions. It was just such an amazing feeling. The whole defense was really going well.”
Kollock added a 51-yard passing touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to Ryner Swanson, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior making the catch near the line of scrimmage and rumbling up the left sideline for the score.
Laguna Beach will play host to Granada Hills Charter (11-2) in the CIF State Regional Championship Division 4-A bowl game on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Highlanders beat Palisades 44-7 in the Los Angeles City Section Division I final.
“I’m ready,” Swanson said of the pursuit of a state title. “I got my whole life ahead of me. I can do two more weeks. We’re excited.”
An explosive Laguna Beach offense was held to 88 total yards in the first half, but the Breakers finally found the end zone 42 seconds before the break. Kollock connected with Aidan Mulkay on a shallow crossing pattern for a 10-7 lead going into halftime.
A sophomore quarterback who transferred from Santa Margarita, Kollock is undefeated in his eight starts for Laguna Beach. The Breakers have won nine in a row overall.
“It’s got to be the best decision I’ve made,” Kollock said of coming home to play for the Breakers. “Coming here, coming back to my hometown, being with the guys I grew up with and playing football with them, and then winning this championship and bringing it back to Laguna after 76 years — it’s surreal.”
Kollock threw for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Rogers gained 77 total yards (57 rushing yards).
Diamond Bar, which was seeking its first section title since 1999, made it a one-possession game on a toe-tap touchdown by Maddox Bernardino in the back of the end zone with 1:05 remaining, but the Breakers recovered the onside kick.
Isaiah Young rushed for a game-high 231 yards and two touchdowns for Diamond Bar, while Bernardino finished with six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
CIF Southern Section Division 9 final
Laguna Beach 36, Diamond Bar 28
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 3 – 7 – 20 – 6 — 36
Diamond Bar 0 – 7 – 7 – 14 — 28
LB — Vidaurri-Tucker 27 FG, 8:54.
DB — Bernardino 17 pass from Lewis (Ramos kick), 8:24.
LB — Mulkay 7 pass from Kollock (Vidaurri-Tucker), 0:42.
LB — Rogers 26 pass from Kollock (Vidaurri-Tucker kick), 8:40.
LB — Chavez 15 punt block return (Vidaurri-Tucker kick failed), 5:37.
LB — Rogers 1 run (Vidaurri-Tucker kick), 3:25.
DB — Young 3 run (Ramos kick), 1:33.
LB — Swanson 51 pass from Kollock (Vidaurri-Tucker kick blocked), 11:49.
DB — Young 2 run (Ramos kick), 6:51.
DB — Bernardino 1 pass from Lewis (Ramos kick), 1:05.
LB — Rogers, 15-57.
DB — Young, 29-231, 2 TDs.
LB — Kollock, 12-22-0, 142, 3 TDs.
DB — Lewis, 13-26-3, 124, 2 TDs.
LB — Swanson, 5-72, 1 TD; Rogers, 3-22, 1 TD; Mulkay, 1-7, 1 TD.
DB — Bernardino, 6-47, 2 TDs.
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