A start to remember

Year In Review

Boys' water polo team's CIF title and football program's historic playoff run got Laguna's 2011-2012 sports year off to a strong beginning.

June 21, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna Beach High boys' water polo Coach Ethan Damato celebrates with his team after defeating Damien High, 14-8, in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship game at Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
Laguna Beach High boys' water polo Coach Ethan Damato… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

Editor's note: The Coastline Pilot looks back on the 2011-2012 high school season. Below is the first of two parts and focuses on events from September through December. The second part will appear in the June 29 issue.


The 2011-12 sports season at Laguna Beach High opened with a bang. Records were set, league titles and a repeat CIF championship were won and one team — football — reached unprecedented heights.

In football, the Breakers became just the third Laguna team to win 10 games in a season. The last Laguna team to accomplish the feat was the 10-2 1987 squad. They also became the first Laguna team since 1964 to reach the CIF semifinals.

The Breakers, who finished third in the Orange Coast League, lost in the Southern Division semifinals in November to second-ranked Corona del Mar, which went on to win the division title. In the postseason, the Breakers walloped Anaheim, 49-13, and outlasted third-ranked Segerstrom 51-40, to become the third Laguna team in school history to win two CIF games. The 1946 and 1962 teams also won two postseason games.


Senior Norton Penney, junior Drake Martinez, junior Larry Stewart and junior Spencer Anderson, were named first-team all-league.

"The kids had a real good year," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said. "I think the early success we had helped the kids build on that."

In girls' volleyball, the third-ranked Breakers won another undefeated Orange Coast League championship and reached the semifinals of the Division 1-A playoffs. There, they were eliminated by second-ranked Corona del Mar. Senior setter Allison Palmer, who will play at Arizona State, and freshman outside hitter Alyse Wallace-Ford were named All-CIF.

Palmer also was named the 2011 Orange Coast League Most Valuable Player. Wallace-Ford and seniors Caroline Holte and Marina Paul were named first-team all-league.

Lance Stewart, who coaches both girls' and boys' volleyball at Laguna, stepped down as boys' head coach in early December. He was replaced by Scott Panaro.

In cross-country, the Laguna girls' team realized a season-long dream by reaching the CIF State Cross-Country Championships in late-November at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Breakers entered the meet ranked sixth in Division 4 and finished sixth at State. Individually, senior Natasha Strickland was Laguna's top finisher in 16th place. Strickland was named Female Runner of the Year for the 2011 Orange Coast League girls' cross-country season.

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