The first five weeks of the season are history. Gone. Good experience.
Now the Laguna Beach High football team can turn its attention to the second half of its campaign, where it begins defense of its league title.
At 7 tonight at Estancia High, the Breakers take their first step in their bid to claim another Orange Coast League championship when they take on the host Eagles in the league opener for both teams.
Laguna and Estancia both enter league play with 1-4 records. Regardless of the records, today marks a fresh start for both teams.
Laguna ended nonleague play last Friday in Hesperia, where the Breakers fell, 48-24, to Oak Hills. The Bulldogs (3-2) pulled away from a tight game by outscoring the Breakers, 17-0, in the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, a few Laguna individual records were rewritten.
Austin Paxson became Laguna's first 4,000-yard career passer with 4,083 yards. He also set the career record for passing attempts (512), breaking the old record of 503 set by Alex Wilson and Charlie Bowman. The senior is 12 completions short of the school career completions record.
Against Oak Hills, Paxson was 17 of 34 for 223 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"He's a great quarterback who has great field vision," senior receiver Chris Paul said. "All of us receivers just run our routes and Austin does a great job of getting the ball to us. Our passing game has been our strength this year."
Paul also went into the school record book against Oak Hills when he scored on a 99-yard kickoff return. That return is the second longest in school history. Bailon Arabe holds the school record, a 100-yard return against Dana Hills in 1978 when no rule existed that prevented players from returning kickoffs that reached the end zone.
Paul averaged 41 yards on five kickoff returns. He also had four receptions total 37 yards. Robert Clemons was Laguna's top receiver in the game with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Travis Clawson (three receptions, 33 yards) also had a touchdown catch.
"I really didn't think of anything when I took off with that kickoff," Paul recalled, adding with a laugh, that "my only goal was not to get tackled."
Norty Penney Jr., in his first start since returning from injury, led Laguna's rushing attack with 48 yards on nine carries.
Defensively, Drake Martinez and Derek Reigel each had an interception.
Estancia has dropped four straight games since opening the season with a 55-0 victory against still winless Bolsa Grande. The Eagles and Breakers have a common nonleague opponent in Northwood. Laguna opened its season Sept. 10 and lost, 62-27, to the Timberwolves, who three weeks later scored a 31-7 win against Estancia.
Other than the 55-point outing against Bolsa Grande a month ago, the Eagles have struggled offensively. In their past four games, they have scored a total of 26 points and were shut out last week in a 31-0 loss to Beckman.
"We've only won one game so far, but I think our nonleague schedule really has prepared us for league," Paul said. "We have some young guys who gained some good experience and we played some pretty tough teams. I think we're ready for league. We just need to go out and give it our all and take things a game at a time."