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KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Laguna Hills quarterback Mitchell O'Hair.

Albano notes: Ingalls' last season off to perfect start

STAFF WRITER

When Laguna Hills football coach Bruce Ingalls told his players this season would be his last after 30 years at the school, he told them he wouldn’t bring up his retirement again.

“It’s not about me. It’s about you kids,” Ingalls told his players. “It’s about their season.”

The Hawks have made it special so far. They have drawn the spotlight back to a proud program by posting a 3-0 start.

The record is striking because Laguna Hills finished 1-9 last fall and was picked to finish last in the challenging Sea View League this season.

Even Ingalls tempered his optimism about 2015 with concerns about the team’s inexperience and lack of depth.

“We’re pretty excited with it,” he said of the 3-0 start. “The cohesiveness of (the) team is certainly different this year.

“We got a bunch of guys believing in one another. We’ve played well. It’s a team that has, quite frankly, surprised me a little bit. … Sometimes when you get that important chemistry going, you can over-achieve.”

Laguna Hills, a three-time CIF-SS champion, notched its third victory with a 42-20 triumph against Woodbridge last week.

Quarterback Mitch O’Hair led the Hawks’ split-back veer offense by completing 8 of 11 passes for 251 yards and five touchdowns.

The senior has nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. O’Hair has trained with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun, but spent the summer in Germany as a foreign exchange student.

“He’s kind of made up for lost time,” Ingalls said of O’Hair (6-0, 170). “Maybe passing league is over-rated.”

The newly installed offense, which is being run by offensive coordinator John Lester, also utilizes several running backs. The Hawks feature Bear Sutton, Sam Warren, Zac Crowe and Chandler France among others.

Malik Richardson-Smith has been a big-play receiver, while Logan Montgomery and Branson Weems join Warren as two-way starters.

The defense has been led by end Adam Rink, lineman Charlie Borrego and linebacker Matthew Davisson.

Rink’s father, Matt, serves as defensive coordinator. Matt Rink was the center for Steve Beuerlein on Servite’s 1982 Big-Five CIF championship team. Ingalls was an assistant coach on the team.

The Hawks play at Irvine (2-1) on Friday and take on Valencia (3-0) before opening the Sea View League on Oct. 9 against visiting Aliso Niguel (2-2).

“We have a lot of water to cross yet,” Ingalls said. “(But) it’s been a fun start. … The main thing is the kids are enjoying it and having fun.”

HANDLING A LOSS

Los Alamitos coach John Barnes found positives after the Griffins fell to La Habra, 37-32, on a Hail Mary pass by Eric Barriere to Eric Lancaster-Garcia on the final play Friday.

“I’m proud of how our kids played,” Barnes said. “At halftime, I’m sure everybody thought it was going to be 48-7 (final). … We came out and played great in the second half, showed we got something. We got to learn from it and go on.”

The Griffins’ Alex Yoffe nearly intercepted Barriere three plays before the Hail Mary.

“I watched BYU do it (this season),” Barnes said of the Hail Mary. “We should have defended it better. We work on that all the time.”

NOTES

Barriere has been offered by Northern Arizona. … Corona del Mar junior quarterback Chase Garbers (6-3, 210) has attracted interest from Stanford, Cal, Washington, Boise State, USC, UCLA, Colorado, Duke, Tennessee and Northwestern. “I’ve progressed a lot since last year,” said Garbers, who helped the Sea Kings defeat Newport Harbor, 24-3, in the teams’ Battle of the Bay game last week. … Servite inserted senior Aaron Simpson at quarterback last week in a 21-14 victory against Edison for a specific reason. “We just needed a change of pace and felt Aaron could help us with his ability to run,” said Friars coach Scott Meyer, whose team plays at national power Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas (4-0) on Friday. Bishop Gorman is ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps. Mater Dei is 25th this week.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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