For Laguna Beach High football Coach Corey Brown, Friday's season opener can't come soon enough.
Not only is he ready to see what his 2013 Breakers have to offer, he's also excited to begin his first year, and first game, in charge of the program.
"I feel like it's my senior year, and I'm about to play that first game of the season," he said. "I've been looking forward to this game all week."
"This game," is Laguna's opening night contest, which will come at home against Bolsa Grande. The Breakers and Matadors kickoff at 7 p.m. at Guyer Field.
The varsity game is part of a opening day doubleheader at Guyer Field. The Laguna and Bolsa Grande frosh/soph teams square off at 3:15 p.m.
"I'm just so excited for our kids," Brown said. "They've worked so hard, gave up their summer and they were fully invested in coming to work every day, to get ready for the season. I'm excited to see how they do in our opener."
While several schools opened the season Aug. 30 with games in Week 0, Laguna scrimmaged Laguna Hills at Guyer Field that day. It was one final tuneup for the Breakers whose performance left Brown impressed.
"The kids took it as seriously as they could and I think it was beneficial, all around," he said. "They had a really great scrimmage against a good opponent. We decided to go with a scrimmage last week, to re-evaluate where we are and where we need to be."
The Breakers were nearly at full strength for that scrimmage but Brown said that starting safety and fullback, senior Andres DeLaRosa did sit it out due to a slight hamstring issue.
"We just kept an eye on Andres, just as a precaution," Brown said. "He'll be ready to go Friday."
Taking over for DeLaRosa at the fullback spot in the scrimmage was junior Ethan Chesley. Senior Josh French filled in at strong safety.
"Both Ethan and Josh had a great scrimmage," Brown said. "Ethan is getting his first real varsity time, which is great. Josh also will serve as a backup to starting tailback Nathan Lancaster."
Lancaster, a senior, was Laguna's second-leading rusher last year. He gained 1,094 yards, averaged 13 yards per carry, and rushed for 14 touchdowns in 13 games.
Starting at quarterback and making his varsity debut will be sophomore Jack Simon. A year ago, Simon was the starting quarterback on the Laguna frosh/soph team coached by Brown. He helped guide the Breakers to a 7-3 record and share of the Orange Coast League title in his first year of playing football.
Like Brown, Simon is eager for that first game.
"It's going to be a huge step, going from frosh/soph to being on varsity, but I'm really excited for this opportunity," Simon said. "My intent was to help out the team in any way that I could, no matter what position I played. We had a really good [quarterback] competition out there. Keaton [Martinez] is a great guy and teammate."
Simon and Martinez, a senior, worked out at quarterback in the off-season. Brown said Martinez, who will play in the backup role at quarterback, is a multi-purpose athlete who can, and will be, used in a variety of positions.
"Keaton is just so versatile and he can play almost any position on offense, as well as defensively," Brown said. "He'll play wingback, receiver and in the secondary, and will be used on special teams. We also have in him a really great backup at quarterback. He brings so much to the table and is a real leader, a great weapon on the field.
"Jack really came on strong at quarterback. He's got a strong, strong arm and is a real competitor. He started on Day 1 at quarterback as a freshman and has continued to grow."
"Last year was my first year of playing of football, and Coach Brown taught me a lot, mostly, about how to be a leader," Simon said.
Friday's opponent, Bolsa Grande, scrimmaged Estancia last week. The Matadors went 1-9 last year, their only win coming against Saddleback, one of Laguna's five Orange League rivals.
Like Laguna, the Matadors enter the new season with a new head coach, Matt Brinkerhoff who, like Brown, coached at the lower level in the Bolsa Grande football program before taking on the varsity job.
In the season opener between the teams last year, Laguna rolled out to an insurmountable halftime lead and rode out a running clock in the second half to a 62-14 victory.
"I think Bolsa's a much-improved team from a year ago," Brown said. "With a new coach, I expect them to come out with a lot of energy and want to prove that they are better than a 1-9 team.
"We're excited, too. There is a great camaraderie on this team. The kids really care for each other. Guys get excited about good blocks, good tackles. They pull for each other. For them, it's the end result as a team, that counts."
Following Friday's opener, the Breakers have a short work week to prepare for their next game, a Thursday matchup at University. The Trojans also open their season Friday with a nonleague game at Segerstrom.
Last year, University gave Laguna the only blemish on its regular season record (9-0-1) after the teams battled to a 36-36 tie game in the second week of the season.
Friday: vs. Bolsa Grande, 7 p.m
Thursday: at University, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: Rancho Dominguez, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at St. Margaret's, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Northwood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: vs. *Saddleback (at Segerstrom High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: *Estancia (homecoming), 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: vs. *Calvary Chapel (at Estancia High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 31: vs. *Godinez (at Segerstrom High), 7 p.m.
Nov. 8: *Costa Mesa (Senior Night), 7 p.m.
(*denotes Orange Coast League game)