May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Artesia pounds out 48-6 victory over Laguna Beach in CIF Division 12 semifinals

Laguna Beach Coach John Shanahan talks to his team after last week’s win. (File photo Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Artesia High’s running attack proved too much for Laguna Beach to handle as the Breakers fell to the Pioneers 48-6 in the CIF Division 12 semifinal game Friday night at Artesia.

Travys Davis rushed for 275 yards and quarterback Heder Gladden added 195 yards on the ground. The duo also combined to score six touchdowns as Artesia, the 605 league champions, advance to its first CIF football final in school’s history.

“I’m happy for all of the players that came through this school and played here, we want to win for all of them,” said Davis.

The Pioneers (10-3) will face Linfield Christian next weekend. The Breakers, who tied for first place in the Pac 4 league had their four-game winning streak snapped, finish the season at 10-3.

“I have to be honest, I’m deeply disappointed; if you’re not, then you’re in the wrong sport,” said Laguna Beach coach John Shanahan. “But we’re all going to walk out of here with our chins held high. We had 10 wins and that’s very difficult to do in high school football. I’m proud of our guys.”

The game started off like a track meet.

The Breakers drove to the Pioneers 19 on the game’s opening possession but Andrew Johnson’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete and Laguna Beach turned the ball over on downs.

On the ensuing play, Davis raced 81 yards for a touchdown but Artesia missed the PAT and lead 6-0.

The Breakers countered with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a 16-yard TD pass from Johnson to Kai Ball, but Laguna Beach missed its PAT and the score was tied 6-6.

Artesia didn’t waste any time retaking the lead. On their third play from scrimmage on its second possession, Gladden broke free and outran the Breakers secondary and scored on a 53-yard touchdown run and the Pioneers took a 13-6 lead with 5:03 left in the opening quarter.

Laguna Beach’s misfortunes continued as the snap on a punt attempt sailed over the Breakers punter’s head and was recovered in the end zone by Laquan Ware-Morales for an Artesia touchdown, upping the Pioneers lead to 20-6.

Breakers wide receiver Jack Crawford suffered a dislocated jaw injury on a pass play with 3:51 left in the first quarter. The game was halted for 22 minutes until an ambulance transported Crawford to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for treatment. Following the game, Shanahan was optimistic about Crawford and said, “Thank goodness, Jack is going to be OK.”

Both teams combined to compile 295 yards in the first quarter alone. The Pioneers recorded just five plays in the opening 12 minutes but gained 166 yards.

However, in the second quarter the game’s momentum changed.

The Artesia defense sacked Johnson five times and Davis added TD runs of 24 and 38 yards to give the Pioneers a commanding 34-6 halftime lead. Artesia also forced three turnovers in the game as they continued to dominate in the second half.

Davis racked up 234 yards rushing on 13 carries and three touchdowns in the first half. Johnson had numerous passes dropped as the Breakers offense seemed to lose some steam and never recovered.

“It would have been great to go to a CIF final but we still had a good season and we never gave up,” said Ball, who caught three passes for 64 yards and a TD.

The Breakers played without standout wide receiver Sean Nolan (60 catches and 18 TDs) who was sidelined with a left shoulder injury.

Despite the setback Laguna Beach center and nose guard Sammer Tarazi said the team continued to improve.

“We had an amazing season,” Tarazi said. “It’s rare to have 10 wins in a season and we kept improving each week.”

Shanahan said the Pioneers ground gain was very tough to stop.

“Gladden and Davis are unbelievable, they are special players,” said Shanahan. “You can’t simulate speed and talent like that in practice. We haven’t faced anything like that this season.”

Shane Lythgoe led the Breakers with 60 yards rushing on seven carries.

                            STATS

LAGUNA     06    00   00    00    –   06

ARTESIA     20    14    07    07    –   48

RUSHING: ART, Gladden 15-195, Davis 21-275; LB, Lythgoe 7-60, Calabrese 3-40.

PASSING: ART, Gladden 2-3-0, 22 yards; LB, Johnson 9-26-2, 145, TD.

RECEIVING: ART, Bowman 1-17, Davis 1-5; LB, Ball 3-64, Crawford 1-30.

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone