High School Football: A new day for Laguna Beach

The Laguna Beach High football program might have a new identity in 2013, but the Breakers have been working hard to continue to recent trajectory the program has experienced.

The new season ushers in the start of the head coaching era for Corey Brown, who takes over for Mike Churchill, who guided the program the past two years. Brown is no stranger to the varsity program as he served as an assistant to Churchill in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Brown also was the head coach for the past three years of Laguna's frosh/soph team. His final team went 7-3 overall and shared the Orange Coast League title last fall.

He steps into the role of varsity head coach and takes over a team that last year won the OCL title outright.

He also inherits a squad he is quite familiar with.

"My overall feelings for this year's team is excitement and motivation," said Brown, who also is the Breakers' offensive coordinator and will coach the defensive line. "I have coached this year's senior group for four years of football. Some of these young men have only had me as a head coach while playing football. I'm very focused and determined to improve each player in order to meet our overall team goal.

"I love the opportunity to represent these young men as their head coach and also represent our beautiful school and community. I look forward to a competitive and successful season."

The last two football seasons have seen Laguna win 21 games, the best two-year win total in the 79-year history of Laguna football. The 2012 Breakers set the program standard for victories (11) in a single season.

Laguna has reached the CIF Southern Section Southern Division semifinals the past two years.

Gone from last year's record-setting team are several all-league and All-CIF players including 2011 and 2012 team MVP, Orange Coast League MPV, and the program's all-time career rusher and career scoring leader, Drake Martinez who has moved on to play at Nebraska.

Lost, too, to graduation are the Orange Coast League's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Blake Hester, Lineman of the Year Spencer Anderson, Special Teams Player of the Year Robbie McInerny, and five all-league players: Robert Clemons, Larry Stewart, Adam Farsheed and Joe Casey.

"Last year's team was the best football team in Laguna Beach High School history and we appreciate what that team did," Brown said. "That team was incredibly special with talented players and great coaches. True, we lost a ton of players but also the coaching with Churchill as a leader and decision-maker will have everyone, players and coaches, needing to step up and take on a bigger piece of the puzzle.

"We have a great group of young men who are anxious to prove that Laguna Beach football isn't and wasn't a one-man show. We are focused on having a complete team and very strong season."

The Breakers return two starters on offense and four on defense. Brown stated that one of the returnees on offense, running back and senior-to-be Nathan Lancaster, accumulated more than 2,000 years of offense and scored 20 times. Lancaster was a 2012 All-Orange Coast League team selection.

Looking to take over at quarterback and replace Larry Stewart are sophomore Jack Simon and senior Keaton Martinez, younger brother of Drake Martinez.

"Both players bring an incredible amount of will and determination to the quarterback position and both posses the ability to lead our team to a win," Brown said. "We have two very good athletes who could play quarterback for us at any time.

"Every day our QBs have to get better, better as leaders and better as players. Both of these young men have put our team first and fully dedicated themselves to this upcoming football season. As a coach, you wish for a QB who will put your team first. We are extremely lucky to have both Jack and Keaton on our football team."

The Breakers can look to the past for inspiration as the 2013 team continues to work on forging its own identity. Brown said the program's recent run at success has been "amazing."

"The change in culture for football at Laguna Beach High School the past two years has been incredible," he said. "Laguna Beach High fields very strong and competitive teams in all sports, boys and girls. We [the football team] want to continue the success of the recent football seasons but also the legacy that other sports have laid the foundation for. We want to continue to build success and field competitive teams.

"This year's varsity program is a talented group, and many of these players were part of those CIF Southern Division [playoff] games the past two years. We have a group who knows how to work hard and they are not afraid to step up and take on a challenge. We have the 2013 season and are up for the challenge of making our mark."

Laguna begins preseason camp for its 2013 season Thursday. The Breakers scrimmage Laguna Hills at home (10 a.m.) Aug. 30, and officially begin their season Sept. 6 at home against Bolsa Grande at 7 p.m.

The Sept. 6 season opener is the second game of a doubleheader at Guyer Field. The Laguna frosh/soph team plays against Bolsa Grande at 3:15 p.m.

Laguna Beach Breakers

League: Orange Coast League

Head coach: Corey Brown (first year)

Coaching staff: Spencer Harrell (offensive line/middle linebackers/defensive coordinator); Ryan Taylor (outside linebackers/tight ends/wing backs); Dave Crowell (wide receivers/defensive backs); Corey Babbington (running backs/defensive backs); James Rafter (special teams/kicking coach).

2012 records: 11-1-1 overall; 5-0 league (champion)

2012 CIF playoff results: Reached semifinals, Southern Division

Last league title: 2012

Offensive scheme: Wing T

Defensive scheme: 3-4

Returning starters offense: 2

Returning starters defense: 4

Players returning with honors: Nathan Lancaster, RB/DB, Sr.

Coach's comments: "We are still looking at our strengths and weaknesses each day in practice," Brown said. "At this point in time, both offense and defense are very even, and special teams remains strong. I believe our strength will come from being a complete team in regard to all three aspects of the game. We will be solid in all phases."

2013 Breakers Schedule

Aug. 30: vs. Laguna Hills (scrimmage), 10 a.m.

Sept. 6: vs. Bolsa Grande, 7 p.m.

Sept. 12: at University, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20: vs. Rancho Dominguez Prep, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27: at St. Margaret's, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4: vs. Northwood, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11: vs. *Saddleback (at Segerstrom High), 7 p.m.

Oct. 18: vs. *Estancia (homecoming), 7 p.m.

Oct. 24: vs. *Calvary Chapel (at Estancia High), 7 p.m.

Oct. 31: vs. *Godinez (at Segerstrom High), 7 p.m.

Nov. 8: vs. *Costa Mesa (Senior Night), 7 p.m.

(*denotes league game)

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