The Laguna Beach High football team didn’t play its hand close to the vest Thursday night.
The Breakers had one eye on their final game of the regular season, a Pac 4 League matchup with familiar foe Godinez from the teams’ battles during their time in the Orange Coast League.
But Laguna Beach had its other eye closely watching the result of the other important Pac 4 League contest between Ocean View and Western. An Ocean View win meant there would be a three-way tie atop the league standings.
Once the clock ran out on Laguna Beach’s dominant 45-7 victory over host Godinez at Santa Ana Valley High, and the Seahawks earned the same outcome over Western, receiver and defensive back Sean Nolan, along with a handful of his teammates, doused Breakers coach John Shanahan with the remnants of a Gatorade container in celebration of a tri-league championship.
Shanahan guided the Breakers to their first league crown in six years. Laguna Beach, Western and Ocean View each finished 2-1 in the league.
But coin flips determined the league’s top two representatives for the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The Pioneers (8-2 overall) received the league’s No. 1 entry and the Breakers (8-2) got No. 2, and both will qualify for the Division 11 and Division 12 playoffs, respectively. The Seahawks (9-1) will have to apply for an at-large berth into the Division 11 playoffs.
Laguna Beach is headed to the postseason in three consecutive years for the first time in program history. And with a No. 2 ranking in the latest Division 12 poll, the Breakers have a good chance to extend their special season even longer.
“This is a program thing and it’s something I’m unbelievably proud of,” said Shanahan, who is in his third year leading the Breakers. “We’re coaching the lower-level guys hard, building the culture at that level, and it’s starting to show with the varsity guys.”
Something that might get lost in all of the team accomplishments was the outstanding performance of quarterback Andrew Johnson.
The 6-foot-2 junior threw for six touchdowns, a Laguna Beach single-game record, and completed 23 of 36 passes for 276 yards in just three quarters. Johnson also surpassed Danny Lane’s single-season mark of 2,303 passing yards. Lane accomplished that in 12 games in 1987.
Johnson, in 10 games this year, has thrown for 2,477 yards.
“I don’t really count this as my record,” Johnson said. “It all starts up front with the line giving me time and I just put it in the hands of our receivers and they do the rest of the work. I think it’s more of a team record, but it feels good.”
The Breakers had no issue moving the ball and finding the end zone in the first half.
Laguna Beach scored on its first two possessions. The first score came on a seven-yard swing pass from Johnson to running back Shane Lythgoe, capping a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
Johnson wasn’t done, however, adding to his total with two more scores through the air in the opening half.
The Breakers capitalized on a Godinez turnover as the ball slipped out of the hands of running back Jesus Torres and fell onto the ground. Linebacker Sam Tyrrell recovered it at the Laguna Beach 31.
Johnson recorded his second touchdown pass of the night on a 26-yard toss to Nolan, giving Laguna Beach a 14-0 lead at the 3:48 mark of the first quarter.
Johnson polished off his strong first-half effort with another touchdown connection with Nolan, this time a 21-yard strike, to give the Breakers a 21-0 advantage with four minutes left.
Laguna Beach closed out the half with a 38-yard field goal from Noah Handel for a 24-0 lead.
Godinez (2-8, 0-3 in league) scored its only touchdown on a six-yard run from Johnny Reyes with 7:07 left. Other than that, Laguna Beach held the Godinez offense to just 120 total yards and it recorded three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Breakers learn on Sunday who they open the postseason with next week.
Pac 4 League
Laguna Beach 45, Godinez 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 14 – 10 – 21 – 0 — 45
Godinez 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 7
LB – Lythgoe 7 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 9:13.
LB – Nolan 26 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 3:48.
LB – Nolan 21 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 4:00.
LB – Handel 38 FG, :01.THIRD QUARTER
LB – Ball 4 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 7:04.
LB – Villalobos 1 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 3:42.
LB – Diver 10 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), :44.
G – Reyes 6 run (Olivares kick), 7:07.
LB – Lythgoe, 12-88.
G – Robles, 24-57.
LB – Johnson, 23-36-0, 276, 6 TDs.
G – Cendejas, 2-8-2, 5.
LB – Nolan, 5-72, 2 TDs.