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High School Football: Breakers' season ends in CIF semifinals

Laguna Beach reach CIF Southern Section Southern Division semis for second straight year, lose to Garden Grove.

November 29, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna Beach quarterback Larry Stewart, left, runs around on a keeper as Garden Grove defenders close in.
Laguna Beach quarterback Larry Stewart, left, runs around… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Another magical season has come to a close for the Laguna Beach High football team.

The Breakers had their bid to reach the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship game halted Nov. 23 by Garden Grove as the host 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, will face top-seeded and defending champion Corona del Mar in the Southern Division title game at 2 p.m. 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.

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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 Stadium.

"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 the matchup, took a 7-0 lead on their second possession of the game but 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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