High School Football: Breakers' memorable season comes to an end

Laguna Beach falls to Garden Grove, 35-21, in CIF Southern Section Southern Division semifinals.

November 24, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • The Laguna Beach players gather around Robert Clemons (3) as the final seconds wind down in their loss to Garden Grove, 35-21.
The Laguna Beach players gather around Robert Clemons… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

GARDEN GROVE — For the first time this season, the Laguna Beach High football team met its match.

And then some.

The Breakers had their bid to reach the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game halted Friday by Garden Grove as the Argonauts pulled away to a 35-21 semifinal victory.

The loss, the first of the year for Laguna, prevented the No. 2-seeded Breakers (11-1-1) from reaching their first division final in 50 years and only fifth title game appearance all-time. They also were upended in the semifinals for the second straight year.

No. 3-seeded Garden Grove, which won its eighth straight game to improve to 11-2, moves on to face top-seeded and defending champion Corona del Mar in the Southern Division title game on Saturday. The Sea Kings earned a repeat trip to the final after knocking out host Woodbridge, 25-0, in Friday's other semifinal.

Laguna Coach Mike Churchill knew his team would face its stiffest challenge of the year at Garden Grove. The Argonauts featured a formidable run game, a quarterback (Angel Martinez) who had thrown for nearly 1,500 yards, and linemen who held a distinct size advantage on the Breakers.


But the Breakers came out and traded early punches with the Argonauts, although they suffered a big blow in the first half when running back Nathan Lancaster suffered a knee injury. The junior was sidelined for the second half. Without Lancaster, the Argonauts keyed on star running back Drake Martinez.

Martinez, Laguna's career rushing and scoring leader, was limited to 77 yards. He also was hobbled but soldiered on in a game played on downtrodden turf at Garden Grove.

"We ran into someone who was bigger, stronger than us tonight," Churchill said. "They took it to us but our kids never quit. I was proud of them for that, for fighting until the very end."

Laguna never led in the game. The Breakers were within a score in the second quarter but gave up a late touchdown that put them in a 28-14 hole at the half. They never recovered but did play the Argonauts on even terms in the second half.

Garden Grove, which averaged 49 points a game heading into Friday's matchup, took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by Maze Masoe midway through the first quarter. Laguna came right back with a 10-play drive that ended when Lancaster took a pitch, went around left end toward the end zone and stretched out to hit the pylon for a six-yard touchdown. Robbie McInerny's PAT kick tied the score with 1:14 left in the quarter.

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