The 2011 prep football season has finally arrived for the Laguna Beach Breakers.
At 7 p.m. Friday at Guyer Field, Laguna begins its 10-game regular schedule by hosting Webb Schools of Claremont. Its the first matchup between the schools.
"We're excited to finally get going," Laguna Beach Coach Mike Churchill said. "We've had a little bit of sickness on our team, but basically we are physically healthy. The kids are ready to go out and play some football."
Not only are the Breakers ready for some football, but so is Churchill, who is back on the sideline as a head coach for the first time since 2006.
"I still get teared up when they play the national anthem," he said. "I am really looking forward to the season, to see what end product we have after preseason workouts. The first game is that measuring stick and tells you where you stand and in what areas you need improvement."
The Breakers put the finishing touches on preseason camp Sept. 2 in a home scrimmage against University. Churchill liked what he saw.
"What makes me rally happy is that the kids played really well and we moved the ball on offense," he said. "But most importantly, we played really good defense and we hit well. That's an area that has become a big improvement for us. We just need to clean up the little things before we play Webb."
Churchill got the chance to scout Friday's opponent Saturday. Webb, a private/boarding school, opened its season on an impressive note as the Gauls defeated Lucerne Valley, 41-20. Senior running back John Bouz rushed for 198 yards on 19 carries and outside linebacker Alex Chang led the defense.
"They looked good in that game," Churchill said of the Gauls, who are a member of the CIF Southern Section's Northeast Division. "They didn't punt one time. They run some spread and a lot of fly stuff. I had the chance to see them play last year, as well. This is a team that has a great camaraderie and intelligent kids. They played well the other night."
Ray Fenton is in his second year in charge of Webb. He formerly coached at Cypress, where he led the Centurions to a CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship in 2007.
"This is our second year at Webb and we're tying to build our program," he said. "Last year, expectations the kids had was average, at best. We're trying to change that mindset and I feel that we are improved from last year.
"I thought we played very well against Lucerne. We had some guys really play well and one of them, Steve Agajanian, is an outstanding leader for us. We were out-matched along the offensive line — both lines, really — but our guys have a lot of fight in them and a lot of heart."
Although pleased with his team's success on Saturday, Fenton says he's wary of Friday's game.
"Laguna is extremely well-coached and looks to be very solid," he said. "Looking at game film on them, they look very much improved from last year. I'm a little concerned that we bit off a little more than we can chew."
Friday's season opener is the first of three consecutive home games for Laguna. The Breakers host Ocean View on Sept. 16 and Bishop Montgomery on Sept. 23.