May 24, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Laguna Hills football players look forward to competing in the PCL next season

A poster produced by the Laguna Hills football program celebrating the program’s return to the Pacific Coast League. (Courtesy Laguna Hills football)

Laguna Hills High School football coach Mike Maceranka said his players are looking forward to being a part of the Pacific Coast Conference in 2020.

Laguna Hills and Dana Hills will join the eight-team league which has been an All-Irvine league for football. There will be two four-team leagues. Laguna Hills will be grouped into a league with Dana Hills, Portola and Northwood.

“We are excited to be back where we belong,” Maceranka told OC Sports Zone. “The Pacific Coast League is a well-balanced league where everyone has a great opportunity for success. If you look at Cal Preps rankings we are all very close and last season all teams that made the playoffs from the PCL were in the same division. In our current league we played San Juan Hills who was Division 4 CIF champion and Aliso Niguel and Trabuco Hills who were Division 8 and we were Division 11.

“That is a huge discrepancy. Before our shuffle my first two seasons we were with Capo Valley, a Division 5 CIF finalist and El Toro a Division 4 semifinalist.”

Maceranka said that posed a challenge.

“It was tough every year knowing there were two league games that the other three teams in the league were at a huge competitive disadvantage and we were all fighting for a third-place possible wild card spot,” he said.
“We will still be the smallest enrollment school in the PCL, but competitively it is a much better fit. We have 1,450 students.

“The next smallest is Irvine with 1,900 and the rest are between close to 2,100  and 2,400 with the exception of Beckman and Dana Hills with 3,000 and 3,200 students (respectively). There are a lot of great coaches who run outstanding programs and it will be fun to compete with them.”

All purpose back and defensive back Mitch Leigber is the most highly-recruited Hawk but there are other players who are catching the eye of college coaches, Maceranka said.

“Next year is going to be an outstanding recruiting year for the Hawks,” Maceranka said. “We have eight other recruits who will have opportunities to play in college. Most are two-year starters and all have over a 3.5 GPA. Five have over a 4.0 GPA and are getting looks from many of the top Division 2 and 3 colleges in the country.

“Quarterback Hayden McKenna, a two-year varsity starter, is getting interest from several Ivy League schools and has a 4.4 GPA. This senior group is strong and went 9-1, 4-0 (Sea View League champions) as a freshman team who is looking to close out their Hawk careers the way they started. We can’t wait for fall.”

2020 LAGUNA HILLS SCHEDULE:

(All games 7 p.m.)

Friday, Aug. 21, (H) vs. Heritage Christian

Friday, Sept. 4, at Estancia

Friday, Sept. 11, at San Marino

Friday, Sept. 18, vs. Woodbridge at Uni

Thursday, Sept. 24, vs. Beckman at Tustin

Friday, Oct. 2, at University

Friday, Oct. 9, (H) vs. Irvine

Friday, Oct. 16 (H) vs. Dana Hills

Friday, Oct. 23 (H) vs. Northwood

Friday, Oct. 30, at Portola

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com