Laguna captures playoff opener

For openers, things couldn't have gone better.

The Laguna Beach football team ventured into Anaheim on Nov. 18 to take on Orange League co-champion Anaheim in an opening-round game of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs. By the end of the night, the Breakers had a one-sided victory in hand after scoring a 49-13 victory.

The Breakers (9-2) host Segerstrom in a quarterfinal-round game Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Guyer Field.

Laguna and Anaheim were tangled in a tight, 14-13, game almost midway through the second quarter before the Breakers pulled away. They scored the final two touchdowns of the half to go on top, 28-13, at the break, then proceeded to shut out the Colonists in the second half.

The Breakers racked up 443 yards on the ground, a total that tied for the fourth-best rushing game in school history.

"When I looked at (Anaheim) on film last week, I really liked their defense," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said. "They play real hard but the one thing they didn't have was speed. And we have speed. We tore them up."

Norton Penney powered Laguna's run game. The senior rambled for 216 yards on 11 carries. He scored the game's first touchdown on a seven-yard run, then added a three-yard scoring run before the first quarter was over.

Penney reached the end zone again on an 85-yard jaunt late in the third quarter to make it a 35-13 game.

Penney now has 1,155 rushing yards for the season (sixth best in program history) and 2,004 for his career (fourth best). His 25 rushing touchdowns rank second all-time and his 32 total touchdowns third.

Right behind Penney was junior back Drake Martinez, who rushed for 191 yards on 17 attempts. The effort included a short touchdown run in the second and third quarters. Martinez also had two receptions for 47 yards.

Martinez now has a school-record 28 touchdowns on the season and is also Laguna's all-time single-season rushing leader at 1,536 yards (11 games).

Junior linebacker Robert Clemons capped the big first-round win with a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"It was a complete team victory," Churchill said.

The Breakers intercepted five times total. In addition to Clemons' record-return, Penney, Martinez, McInerny and Zach Jaffe also picked off a pass.

Laguna's defense now faces a Segerstrom offense that also runs the Wing-T. The Jaguars are the division's No. 3-seed and are riding a seven-game win streak. Junior Sonny Roa leads the ground game at 1,052 yards. David Perkins (673), Joseph Gomez (604) and Eric Ramirez (546) are also big contributors to the ground attack. Jaguars quarterback Aaron Morales has thrown for 1,112 yards.

Roa and Martinez combined for 311 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Morales threw for 113 and a touchdown and rushed for another score in a first-round win over Garden Grove.

If common opponents count for anything, Friday's contest could be interesting. On Sept. 16, the Breakers ran up a 73-40 victory on Ocean View. Two weeks ago, Segerstrom fended off a wild second-half rally by the Seahawks and scored two touchdowns in the final minute of play to pull out a 52-38 win in a game that clinched the Golden West League title for the Jaguars.

Segerstrom also defeated Godinez, 42-21, on Oct. 7. Laguna knocked off the Grizzlies, 42-35, in a league game Oct. 28.

Laguna is in the Southern Section quarterfinals for the seventh time. A win Friday would put the Breakers in unique company: the program has won 10 games in a season only twice (1968, 1987).

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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