Laguna Hills bounces back in league opener, beats Aliso Niguel


LAGUNA HILLS – Laguna Hills quarterback Mitchell O’Hair saw it as a clean slate.

O’Hair and the rest of the Hawks started in the air and finished on the ground en route to a 31-17 victory over Aliso Niguel at Laguna Hills High on Homecoming Friday.

The senior observed opening night of Sea View League play as the perfect mulligan following a tumultuous 35-0 loss to Valencia last week.

“We all believed in each other, and we came out and showed that today,” O’Hair said. “It’s kind of a start-over. But we came in with the same kind of mindset that no matter what we’ll play tough.”

O’Hair threw for 180 yards and tossed two early touchdowns for Laguna Hills (5-1, 1-0). Senior running back Bear Sutton willed his way into the end zone twice in the fourth quarter on scoring plunges of 1 and 2 yards to put the game out of reach.

“You know, we’ve been playing some pretty good second halves the whole season,” Laguna Hills coach Bruce Ingalls said. “They’ve worked hard. They’re conditioned, and it pays off because they have enough gas in the tank to keep going.”

For an offense that compiled just 100 yards last week, the Hawks hit the accelerator early and often.

O’Hair unleashed a 48-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline to Malik Richardson-Smith on the third play of the Hawks opening series to grab a quick 7-0 lead with 10:15 left in the first quarter.

On Laguna Hills’ next drive, O’Hair was at it again. His second completion hit Logan Montgomery just inside the Aliso Niguel 15. Montgomery shook off at least five defenders before dancing into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.

Aliso Niguel (2-5, 0-1), coming off a 47-46 loss to Sonora last week, was forced to punt on its first four possessions.

But the Wolverines benefitted from a timely interception from Jake Meyers at the Laguna Hills 36 in the opening minute of the second quarter, which setup a 7-yard TD pass from Nick Chapman to Tanner Clarke, cutting the halftime lead to 14-7.

The teams traded field goals midway through the third, but the Hawks ground game took control the rest of the half to pull away.

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