The first three weeks of the season have gone pretty much as expected for the Laguna Beach High football team. A big win here, another one there, then a shutout, have led to early success.
What those three games have primed the Breakers for is, perhaps, their toughest assignment of the year.
Friday at 7 p.m. in San Juan Capistrano, Laguna will go up against undefeated St. Margaret's. The Tartans are the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division poll and come into the showdown also 3-0.
St. Margaret's is the first ranked team the Breakers will face this year.
"It's a big one," Laguna Coach Corey Brown said of the game. "It will be our biggest challenge yet."
Laguna has overpowered its first three opponents. Last week, the program notched its first shutout victory since 2006 when the Breakers blanked visiting Rancho Dominguez Prep, 35-0.
The Laguna defense has allowed just seven points the past two weeks and in three games, has given up only 24 points.
"I really like how our defense is playing," Brown said. "Our D-line is really doing a great job penetrating. Our linebackers are doing their assignments, and our secondary has been great, so far. They are keeping routes in front of them."
Now, Brown's defense will go up against a St. Margaret's offense that comes in averaging 41 points. The Tartans posted 56 points in their season-opening win over Sun Valley Village Christian, 23 against Temecula Linfield Christian, and last week put 44 on Whittier Christian.
St. Margaret's scored on its first five possession during last week's 44-14 win over previously undefeated Whittier Christian (No. 5, Northwest Division). Sophomore running back Nick Shanks ran for 257 yards and scored four touchdowns, and senior quarterback Joshua Davis threw two touchdown passes in the one-sided win.
Brown called Davis a "great player."
"That's the first thing that comes to mind about them, their quarterback," he said. "[Davis] is a great passer with a lights-out arm, and a great runner. I think he does both equally well. We need to know where he's at, and keep a pair of eyes on him at all times.
"In last year's game (a 31-17 Laguna victory), he did a great job against us. He's a big player for them."
The St. Margaret's defense will go up against a Laguna team that has scored no fewer than 32 points in a game.
Last week, the Laguna offense scored four times during a 35-0 victory over Rancho Dominguez. The Breakers' defense got into the scoring act, too, as senior Nathan Lancaster returned an interception 91 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the game.
The interception return was the fourth-longest in program history.
Lancaster also opened the scoring with a 27-yard run that capped Laguna's first possession of the game. He also scored on a two-yard run during a second quarter that also saw him take in a 14-yard scoring pass from sophomore quarterback Jack Simon.
"That's Nathan being Nathan," Brown said of Lancaster, who also caught two passes for 23 yards, kicked three extra points and had three punt returns total 59 yards. "He had another big game."
Senior running back Andres DeLaRosa scored on a seven-yard run in the third quarter that took the lead to 28-0.
Lancaster led the rushing attack with 126 yards on 15 carries. DeLaRosa gained 79 yards on 10 attempts and had five receptions for a team-high 76 yards.
Simon was 11 for 20 for 139 yards.
Laguna's defense held Rancho Dominguez to 122 yards of offense and only six first downs.
Lancaster's 136 rushing yards put him at 1,993 yards for his career. He is now fifth all-time in career scoring (209 points), third all-time in career rushing touchdowns (26), tied for fifth in career touchdowns (33), and tied for sixth in career return touchdowns (three),
The win over Rancho Dominguez moved Laguna from fifth to No. 4 in this week's Southern Division rankings.
"I was really happy with our performance," Brown said. "The No. 1 thing I take away from it, was that our defense played lights out. We're playing really hard, sound football. We were in position to make plays.
"So far, we are executing on Friday nights."
Breakers Schedule (3-0)
Friday: at St. Margaret's, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Northwood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: vs. *Saddleback (at Segerstrom High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: *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: *Costa Mesa (Senior Night), 7 p.m.
(*denotes Orange Coast League game)