Breakers gear up for summer play

It was a late start, but a good one, at that.

Summer ball didn't begin until Tuesday for the Laguna Beach High football team and although the Breakers might be behind a bit in terms of practice time, they received a big boost in another area: players.

Mike Churchill, who is in his first year as head coach of the program, said that 54 "varsity kids" came out for summer ball. Complimenting that group, he said, were 32 freshmen who got their first taste of Laguna Beach football.

"Those numbers are better than what we've had out in the past few years," Churchill said. "That's a positive sign.

"One thing I did when I became head coach was that I tried to go reach out to our student body, to get some of those kids to come out. I also worked on retaining kids who played last year. We have a good group."

Tuesday's session had the Breakers working through various drills. They'll continue to practice through the end of the month and take part in various passing league competitions against several opponents.

Summer competition started Thursday against Huntington Beach and University. Next week, the Breakers will go to El Toro for a Tuesday matchup against the Chargers and go up against Laguna Hills Thursday at Guyer Field.

They'll also host Patriot of Riverside on July 21and close out summer play July 26 at home against Woodbridge.

"It's a good challenge for us," Churchill said of the summer schedule. "We're going up against some good teams and I know several of the coaches."

Two of those coaches are Huntington Beach Coach Eric Lo and Patriots Coach Scott Pearne. Churchill said Lo played guard for him at Riverside Poly High and later on the offensive line when he coached at Riverside Community College. Pearne played for and later coached under Churchill at RCC.

"It's great to see these guys I coached leading their programs, and it'll be fun to go up against their teams," he said. "When I coached at Riverside Poly, we used to have a tournament at the end of the summer against teams led by coaches I knew. Everyone worked really well together and we had a good time. That's how I went about setting up the competitions this summer."

Churchill, whose days begin at 6:30 a.m. and end "around 8:15 p.m.," said Laguna will run the Delaware Wing T on offense and play a 50 Package on defense. He said he'll take approximately 22 players to the competitions.

Junior Larry Stewart, a back-up last year to Austin Paxson, will start at quarterback. Churchill is "really high" on 6-foot-3 junior fullback Drake Martinez, whose brother, Taylor, started last year at quarterback for Nebraska.

"The goal for the summer isn't winning or losing, it's about getting the kids in the right spots," he said. "Looking at our team, I think our offensive line is coming together and doing OK. Our line goes 6-2 across the board. I think our defense will be a heck of a lot better this fall. We didn't really stop anybody last year.

"We have a really good group of kids here, we really do. It's early, but they're learning and having fun."

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