A league championship may be out of reach, but the Laguna Beach football team still has plenty to play for.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the Breakers close out both Orange Coast League and regular-season play against Saddleback at Segerstrom High in Santa Ana. The Breakers already are assured a CIF playoff berth and can wrap up sole possession of third place in the league standings with a victory over the Roadrunners.
"To me, I've been trying to sell the fact to the kids that it's important to finish strong," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said. "We want to go into the playoffs feeling good, and a win Friday will do that. Plus, these kids can achieve a personal goal of winning eight games. Not too many Laguna Beach teams can say they've won eight games in a season."
Only nine previous Laguna teams had at least an eight-win season: 1946 (8-0-0), 1949 (8-3-0), 1952 (9-2), 1956 (8-1-0), 1962 (8-4-0), 1964 (8-2-1), 1968 (10-1), 1986 (8-3-0 and 1987 (10-2).
The Breakers last week fell from title contention after falling, 63-47, to visiting Costa Mesa in a wild affair. They fell behind, 21-0, in the first quarter to the Mustangs but fought back to within, 21-14, in the second quarter, then trailed, 42-14, in the third quarter.
Laguna, ranked eighth in this week's Southern Division poll, is now 2-2 in league and 7-2 overall.
"I'm not one for moral victories, but I was real happy to see our kids come back — they didn't quit," Churchill said. "We were down by 21 real fast, had a TD called back and threw an interception for a TD before halftime, but the kids just didn't give up.
"We had 33 first downs in the game, threw for 448 yards and scored 47 points, but still lost. You don't see too many high school games where teams combine for (1,316) yards of total offense."
Quarterback Larry Stewart went into the Laguna record book twice on a night where the Breakers set several other records and extended two more. Stewart threw for a record 413 yards to break the old mark of 349 yards Austin Paxson threw for last year against Mary Star of the Sea. Stewart also tied Paxson — who did it twice — for most touchdown passes in a game (five).
Laguna meets a Saddleback team that has struggled this fall. The Roadrunners are 0-9 and have scored just 17 total points. Last week, they lost, 35-3, to Godinez.