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Wounded Breakers look to rebound

And the hits keep on coming.

Two weeks into the 2010 season, the Laguna Beach High football team is beginning to resemble the walking wounded. The injuries are piling up on the Breakers, who today are in Torrance to face Bishop Montgomery for a 6 p.m. nonleague showdown.

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“Yeah, we’re a bit banged up,” Laguna Coach Jonathan Todd said. “Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it did.”

During practice this week, both leading receiver Chris Paul and freshman inside linebacker Steven Harrison, who started last week in a 36-14 loss at Ocean View, suffered concussions and will be held out of tonight’s game. Quarterback Austin Paxson, who missed the entire second half of the Ocean View game after injuring his right hand on his throwing arm, has been “really sick” this week and also will be out of action, Todd said.

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Prior to the past week, three key Breakers — running back Norty Penney, center/inside linebacker Taylor Preston and running back Michael Hyden (broken leg) — already were on the injured list.

Penney is still sidelined but Preston will be back in action today, Todd said, adding that sophomore Larry Stewart, a lefty who replaced Paxson last week against Ocean View, will get his first start at quarterback against the Knights.

“Larry’s been getting some good reps in this week,” Todd said. “I really have to give it up for Larry. He was a little shaky at the start when he came into last week’s game, but then he settled down and did a good job. He’s talented and he’s going to be a very good quarterback.”

In last week’s loss to Ocean View, the Breakers started five sophomores and a freshman (Harrison) on defense and four sophomores on offense, Todd said.

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“For me, the Ocean View game showed that a couple of kids can play,” Todd said. “Drake Martinez, who’s a sophomore, and Steven Harrison, who’s only a freshman, really played well and stepped up. I also thought that Ricki Delatorre played well and Travis Clawson had a great game and was probably was our player of the game.”

Laguna looked as though it might have its way with Ocean View after striking quickly to go up, 14-0. The Breakers took the opening kickoff and marched right down field. From the Ocean View 22, Paxson lofted a pass to the end zone for junior receiver Derek Reigel, who out-jumped Seahawks defensive back Andrew Medrano to make a nifty touchdown reception.

Four minutes later, the Breakers went on a 73-yard drive to score again. Paxson this time lofted a pass into the end zone, where Paul went high over Medrano and Blake Walker to make the grab on a 19-yard scoring pass. Paxson and Paul then teamed up on a two-point pass to give the Breakers a 14-0 lead with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

Paxson injured his right hand when it hit a helmet at the completion of his throwing motion in the second quarter, Todd said.

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“He had no feeling in his hand but I think he’s OK from that now,” Todd said.

In less than one half of play, Paxson threw for 223 yards on 12 of 21 passing with two interceptions. Stewart was eight of 14 for 90 yards and an interception. Paul had six catches for 122 yards and also averaged 35.5 yards on two punt returns and had an interception on defense. Reigel caught five passes for 90 yards and Clawson had five receptions for 60 yards.

Ocean View scored two of its touchdowns on interception returns.

Bishop Montgomery is 1-2 overall. The Knights opened the season with a 43-0 shutout of Vista del Lago but have lost close games to Salesian (34-24) and El Segundo (45-38) in the past two weeks. Running back Nolan Plummer rushed for 196 yards and three scores for the Knights in last week’s loss to El Segundo.

“They wan to run the ball and have a back who’s pretty scary,” Todd said of the Knights and Plummer. “If he breaks tackles, he’s gone. We didn’t do too good a job in the tackling department last week and that’s a concern.

“We also need to get our running game going. Our offensive line had a difficult time with that, and that’s something we’ve been working on this week.”

Despite the recent injuries his team has suffered, Todd remains optimistic.

“I can’t wait until we get everyone healthy,” he said. “When we are healthy, we are a different team. That’s something to look forward to.”


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