The Laguna Beach High football program has seen quite the run over the last year.
A loss to Godinez to begin Orange Coast League play last season had the Breakers mired in a five-game losing streak. The Breakers were forced into a now-or-never scenario, and they ran the table to make the CIF Southern Section Division 12 playoffs.
It is clear now that there has been a carryover effect.
Andrew Johnson threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns, and the Breakers cruised to a 41-19 win at Estancia in Friday’s nonleague game.
Laguna Beach (4-1), ranked No. 8 in the Division 12 poll, has won eight of its last 10 games, dating to a 35-23 home win over Costa Mesa on Oct. 13, 2017. That marked the beginning of the Breakers’ playoff push last season.
“It’s surreal,” Breakers junior middle linebacker Sam Tyrrell said. “We lost a lot of our good players and to come back now and do as well as we are is really surprising.”
Breakers coach John Shanahan did not share the same sentiment, calling Laguna Beach’s winning ways a program-wide phenomenon.
“It’s the third year in a system,” Shanahan said. “[It’s] kind of our unique system where the varsity coaches coach both levels. We’ve got the younger guys up and ready. They’re ready to play on varsity right away. They’ve had a tremendous amount of success on the lower level. They’ve won a lot of games. I think they were 17-3 or 17-2-1 over the last couple of years.
“It’s a different level, but the winning culture is finally starting to stick a little bit here at Laguna.”
Johnson had his pick of receivers to throw to. There were 10 different Breakers to make a reception.
Sean Nolan had nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Kai Ball and Jack Crawford also caught touchdowns.
Shane Lythgoe led the Breakers’ running attack. He had 15 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. Jackson Golden also scored on the ground.
“Sometimes, I talk to our offensive coaches about, having played a lot of basketball, this is almost like coaching a basketball team,” Shanahan said of the assortment of weapons the Breakers possess. “You’ve got a lot of guys who want the ball, but there is just not enough [balls] to go around sometimes. We do our best to share it and make sure that we can get as many kids as possible involved.”
Johnson had completed just 50% of his passes coming into Friday, but he started the game completing his first eight passes for 94 yards.
“I think it really built up everyone around us,” Johnson said of finding an early rhythm. “I think we were all rallying together. Definitely wasn’t just me. I think the line was giving great protection, wide receivers were running great routes, just gave me enough time to put the ball where it needed to be.”
Laguna Beach’s offense surged in the early going, putting points on the board on its first four drives. The halftime score saw the Breakers leading the Eagles 24-6.
The Breakers, who moved to the Pac 4 League, will continue with their nonleague schedule against Marina (2-4) on Sept. 28.
Trevor Pacheco, a prolific runner for Estancia (3-2), did not see any offensive snaps, although he did see time as a defensive back.
Eagles coach Mike Bargas said that Pacheco rolled an ankle against Ocean View last week, and he was not willing to risk the injury getting worse prior to the start of Orange Coast League play.
“He could have played, but I don’t want damaged goods,” Bargas said. “League, we’re going to need everyone full-speed.”
Bargas added that he is “counting on” Pacheco’s availability on the offensive side when Estancia begins league play against Calvary Chapel (0-5) on Thursday.
Jaycen Cash completed just 12 of 28 passes for 197 yards. He threw a 15-yard touchdown to Hayden Pearce on his final pass of the night.
Nathan Guyot had six catches for 105 yards, and Ryan Carrillo added a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Laguna Beach 41, Estancia 19
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 10 – 14 – 10 – 7 — 41
Estancia 6 – 0 – 0 – 13 — 19
LB – Ball 20 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 9:33.
E – Cash 1 run (Perez kick failed), 4:08.
LB – Handel 31 FG, :47.
LB – Nolan 12 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 10:53.
LB – Lythgoe 4 run (Handel kick), 7:23.
LB – Handel 25 FG, 7:48.
LB – Golden 8 run (Handel kick), 2:51.
E – Carrillo 26 INT return (Perez kick failed), 9:09.
LB – Crawford 7 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 4:58.
E – Pearce 15 pass from Cash (Douglass kick), 2:37.
LB – Lythgoe, 15-94, 1 TD.
E – Cash, 12-66, 1 TD.
LB – Johnson, 26-39-2, 322, 3 TDs.
E – Cash, 12-28-0, 197, 1 TD.
LB – Nolan, 9-112, 1 TD.