LBHS football claims CIF Title for the first time in 76 years

The players and coaching staff celebrate their hard-earned, monumental CIF title. This was the first CIF title of Coach John Shanahan’s career.

Gavin Zaengle, Sports Editor

On Saturday, Nov. 26, Laguna Beach football traveled to Diamond Bar to face the 12-1 Brahmas in the most important game in Breaker football history since 1947. The two offensive powerhouses clashed to see who would hoist the CIF division 9 trophy, with our Breakers coming out on top with a 36-28 victory.

The last time Laguna Beach was in a home semifinal was in 1962, and the last time we won it all was in 1947. The 2022 Breaker football team has officially cemented itself in Laguna Beach history.

The general expectations were of a high-scoring contest, so the first half was one that nobody saw coming. The score read 10-7 in favor of Laguna Beach at the half, as both teams’ defenses held strong. Junior Nico Vidaurri of Laguna Beach kicked a 27-yard field goal for the first points of the game, but the Brahmas struck back after a masterful route by senior Maddox Bernardino, who ran 17 yards for the score. The Breakers managed to march down the field quickly, and, just before halftime, sophomore quarterback Jackson Kollock found senior Aidan Mulkay on a crossing route for 4 yards and the score.

“After a low-scoring first half, we knew it was only a matter of time until either team gained momentum. We knew that had to be us,” said senior captain and safety Sam Garwal.

The Breakers, fueled by the impressive, dedicated Laguna Beach crowd, took the reins and outplayed the Brahmas in the second half.

“It was pretty hype,” said Kollock. “Seeing the crowd electrified gave us a new burst of energy going into the second half.”

Laguna jumped out to a commanding 30-7 lead to start off the second half after a successful sequence of events. After the Breakers stopped the Brahmas on their opening possession, junior running back Nick Rogers took a screen pass from Jackson Kollock 26 yards for a touchdown. Following another unsuccessful drive, the Brahmas were forced to punt.

“One thing Coach Shanahan told us during the week was that if we blocked a punt, we would win the game. We knew coming in that they didn’t have a great punt team, and we might have a chance to block a punt. When I saw the opening, I darted right through the gap and made the play,” said junior wide receiver Chase Tyson. 

Senior captain and star defensive lineman Micah Chavez was able to scoop up the blocked punt and take it 17 yards for another Breaker score. On the ensuing Diamond Bar possession, captain and linebacker Jeremy Kanter undercut a slant over the middle, intercepting the ball and taking it 18 yards to put the Breakers in the red zone. Rodgers was able to find paydirt on a 1-yard rush, putting the Breakers up 30-7.

The Brahmas were able to stop the bleeding after a score, but junior wide receiver Ryner Swanson took matters into his own hands and struck back. Kollock found Swanson on a screen pass that he took 51 yards, all the way to the end zone after juking a few Brahma defenders.

“We knew we had to make a play as Diamond Bar started gaining momentum,” said Swanson. “As I was running down the sideline, I saw some daylight inside and made a nice move leaving those boys in the dust.”

As the final whistle blew, head coach John Shanahan was showered with water as the Breaker team embraced one another for the greatest group hug of their young careers. Following the postgame speech, the Breaker fans rushed onto the field to congratulate the players on the 50-yard line.

“The celebration was awesome,” said junior wide receiver Merrick Vellmure. “It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The best part was how our parents and friends, who have supported us all season long, came to share the moment with us.”

On Dec. 3, the Breakers took on the visiting Granada Hills Charter Highlanders for the regional championship. The two teams were responsible for a whopping 11 lead changes with both teams leading at some point of all four quarters. Despite the 55-56 loss, Laguna Beach is incredibly proud of what their football team accomplished this season.