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Laguna putting finishing touches on summer

High School Football

Breakers football Coach Mike Churchill feels his team, coming off a record-breaking season, is ahead of where it was this time last year.

July 19, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna Beach High quarterback Larry Stewart runs a play during summer practice Tuesday.
Laguna Beach High quarterback Larry Stewart runs a play… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

The start of the season is still six weeks away, but Laguna Beach High football Coach Mike Churchill has a pretty good read on his 2012 Breakers.

"The biggest thing I've seen so far is that we're so much further ahead this year at this time than we were last year," he said.

Last June served as a prelude to Churchill's first season as Laguna's head coach meaning his Breakers were still learning the Xs and Os of a new playbook.

"We were [reaching] and had to learn a whole new offense and a whole new defense," Churchill said. "We have a lot of guys returning this year, so that hasn't been a problem for us this summer. The thing that has impressed me is that this group has been able to grasp whatever new things we've thrown at them. It's a smart group, and the key for us (coaches) is to keep them challenged."

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Laguna began summer workouts the final week of June. To date, the Breakers have played in several 7-on-7 passing league competitions. They started with a four-way competition against JSerra, Lakeside (Elsinore) and Orange Coast League foe and champion Estancia. They then took on Laguna Hills and last week went up against Huntington Beach. The Breakers faced Aliso Niguel on Thursday and conclude their summer session next week.

Several areas of play has impressed the head coach, starting with his offensive backfield. It was the strength of the team a year ago, too, in a record-breaking season.

With a year in Churchill's system under his helmet, senior quarterback Larry Stewart has taken the reins of the team.

"Last year, Larry came right out from baseball," Churchill said. "He had to learn a whole new offense and it took some time to do it, but he went on to have a great year. He was all-league at quarterback and had a game where he threw for a school-record 413 yards against Costa Mesa. This time around, he's come right out from the start and has been our leader. He's got a great arm and throws heat. He's had a real good summer."

Churchill said that to date, there are 67 students out for football, nearly the same amount that came out for the program last year.

Once summer ball has wrapped, the Breakers will be on hiatus until preseason preparations begin Aug. 13 with two-a-day practices.

"Next week is our last week, and it's good that the kids get some time off," Churchill said. "They've been going at it hard since June. It's been a productive summer. They'll get two weeks off where they can go to the beach, have fun and just be kids. It's a chance for them to recharge their batteries before we start up again."

Laguna opens its season at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Bolsa Grande.

michael.sciacca@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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