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Breakers Return Speed to the Field

Beefed up senior running back Drake Martinez will present a formidable challenge for opposing defenses.

A speedy backfield was the hallmark of Laguna’s football team last season. Breaker opponents should expect more of the same, with seniors Drake Martinez and Robert Clemons returning to anchor a ground game that racked up more than 5,000 yards. “That’s our strong point, our speed,” said second year head coach Mike Churchill.

Joining them will be junior Nathan Lancaster, who surprised a lot of defenses with his quickness on kick returns, and as a second-string running back. “I’m faster than last year,” said Lancaster, who was league champ in the 100 and 200 meters last spring in track.

Even so, Lancaster is still “the third fastest guy in the backfield” behind Martinez and Clemons, according to Churchill.

The season opens Friday, Aug. 31, on the road against Bolsa Grande High. The first home game is Friday, Sept. 7 against University.

Laguna lost the heart and soul of its ground game with the graduation of Norton Penney. “That’s going to be the hardest thing to replace,” said Churchill of Penney’s leadership and relentless running style.

One of Laguna’s main offensive threats, senior Robert Clemons, right, will play a key roll as a corner back on an improved defensive squad.

Although he’d much rather run around would be tacklers than through them like Penney, Lancaster appears ready to step into the starting role. “He’s got all the tools,” said Churchill. “He’s just got to settle in on the darn thing.”

“I’m hoping for big stats from that kid this year,” said senior quarterback Larry Stewart. “[Lancaster’s speed] just makes people look stupid.”

To keep defenses from keying on Laguna’s talented trio of runners, the Breaker’s passing game will have to be better. “We’re going to need that second option to go to,” said Stewart, who is coming off a solid first season at starting quarterback in which he threw for a single-game record 413 yards against Costa Mesa.

A solid offensive line of seniors Warren Abbate, Spencer Anderson, Blake Hester, Adam Farsheed and Bobby Weiland should provide needed protection for Stewart, who said he is concentrating on “just making my reads and taking what the defense gives to me and not trying to force anything.”

Stewart has also been doing of lot of lifting. “His arm’s real strong,” said Churchill.

He will need that strength to get the ball to a corps of pass catchers who can get downfield in a hurry. “I think we’ve got some speed at receiver,” said Churchill, “and they all got great hands.”

Second year coach Mike Churchill offers advice during practice.

Three of those receivers are Ritchie Nunis, Jake Hexberg and Keaton Martinez, all juniors. But perhaps the Breakers’ best deep threat will come out of the backfield. “I think that we’ve got the best receiver in the league in Robert Clemons, our wing back,” said Churchill.

For a team that averaged nearly 50 points a game last year, Laguna probably won’t have too much trouble getting into the end zone this season. Though it remains to be seen whether their defense can consistently keep other teams out.

To that end, the Breakers have dedicated themselves to countless hours in the weight room. “We’re a lot bigger than last year,” said Drake Martinez, whose 15 pounds of extra muscle should not only make him a tougher running back to tackle, but also a tougher tackling defensive back.

“We’re bigger, and we’re stronger,” said Churchill. “I think that we’re going to be a little bit more physical.”

Experience and speed will be keys to the defensive backfield. Clemons and senior Robbie McInerny will line up at the corners. Lancaster and Drake Martinez will roam the field at the two safety positions.

Senior Joseph Casey, junior Steven Harrison and sophomore Josh Johnson will anchor a beefed-up defensive line, with seniors Dylan Hunter, Tyler Davidson, and Abbate, and sophomore Ali Berri also getting some action.

Even with speed to spare at the skill positions, a bigger offensive line, a more confident quarterback, and a stronger, more physical defense, perhaps the team’s biggest asset is experience. “I think the strength of our team is our senior class,” said Churchill.

A year ago Laguna had a new coach trying to implement a complex system with a lot of new players, including some who had never played the game before. Now “we know the offense like the back of our hand,” said Stewart.

A full season in Churchill’s system has made the Breakers a more cohesive unit that Stewart said has the necessary “swagger” of a winner.

“Last year at this time, I think they all wanted to be good, but they didn’t know exactly how good they were going be,” said Churchill. This year “we’re going to be ready to play in the beginning.”

The schedule makers were kind to the Breakers. Six of their 10 regular season games are at home, including a three-game stretch from Sept. 21 to Oct. 5.

After making it to the third round of CIF last season, the Breakers have their school and community believing that anything’s possible. “People realize that Laguna’s not a team to be pushed around any more,” said Lancaster. “We’re even more excited to see how far we’ll go this year.”

 

Photos by Robert Campbell

 

LAGUNA BEACH HIGH SCHOOL
           FOOTBALL 2012

31-Aug

BOLSA GRANDE HIGH SCHOOL AWAY

7:00 PM

7-Sep

UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

13-Sep

JOHN GLENN HIGH SCHOOL AWAY

7:00 PM

21-Sep

St. MARGARETS HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

28-Sep

PIONEER HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

5-Oct

SADDLEBACK HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

12-Oct

ESTANCIA HIGH SCHOOL AWAY

7:00 PM

19-Oct

CALVARY CHAPEL HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

26-Oct

GODINEZ HIGH SCHOOL HOME

7:00 PM

1-Nov

COSTA MESA HIGH SCHOOL AWAY

7:00 PM

9-Nov

C.I.F. PLAYOFFS

 

 

Breakers 2012 roster:

3

Clemons Robert 12 5’11

172

WB DB returns

4

Hexberg Jake 11 5’11

151

R DB kick

6

DelaRosa Andres 11 5’9

159

WB DB

7

Stewart Larry 12 6’4

196

QB S punt

8

Coury Richard 12 5’9

169

B DE

9

Tracy, Brett 10 6’0

166

TE LB

10

Kimball, Andrew 10 5’9

147

QB DB

11

Martinez, Keaton 11 6’1

148

QB DB

23

Lythgoe, Adam 10 5’11

176

TE DE

24

McInerny Robbie 12 5’11

169

B DB kick/punt

25

Lancaster Nathan 11 6’0

176

B DB return

31

Pham Kevin 12 B DE

32

Addis, Taylor 10 5’9

156

B DE

33

Chesley, Ethan 10 6’0

166

B LB

36

Martinez Drake 12 6’3

195

B S return

40

Regan Myles 10 WB DB

41

Smith, Jacob 10 WB DB

42

Hogan Willy 10 5’9

137

R DB

43

Graves L.G. 11 5’10

178

B LB

50

Weiland Bobby 12 5’8

223

OL DL

51

Martinez Elijia 12 6’0

220

OL DL

52

Wilson Jeremy 10 5’7

188

OL DL

53

Davidson Tyler 12 OL DL

54

Harrison Steven 11 OL DL

55

Pietig, Danny 10 5’11

202

OL LB

57

Hutson Cole 10 5’9

189

OL DL

60

Baran, Atakan 10 5’10

189

OL DL

61

Sofferman Michael 11 B DE

62

Casey Joseph 12 5’9

182

OL DL

63

Hester Blake 12 6’3

196

OL LB

64

Anderson Spencer 12 6’2

195

OL DE

65

Farsheed Adam 12 6’1

198

OL LB

67

Valdez, John 10 5’11

220

OL DL

70

Myhan Mickey 11 5’11

216

OL DL

72

Berri Ali 10 OL DL

73

Cracknell Oliver 10 OL DL

74

Wylie Nate 10 OL DL

75

Chawla Yash 12 5’11

214

OL DL

77

Abbate  Warren 12 6’0

160

OL DL

78

Johnson, Josh 10 6’2

280

OL DL

80

Hunter Dylan 12 6’1

190

TE DL

82

Nunis Ritchie 11 6’2

160

R DB

83

Kluver Zack 11 5’11

147

R DB

84

French Josh 11 6’0

160

R DB

85

Luecke David 10 6’0

162

TE DE
 
 
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