Coast News Columnist

Sports Shorts

Laguna Lancers Lovin’ Life – Um, that’s an understatement to be sure! Huge props go out to the Laguna Middle School 7th Grade Boys’ Basketball Team as they recently completed a most remarkable campaign by running the table on their way to a history-making undefeated season. You think middle school hoops and you think, ah, maybe a 12-14 game season. Not even! This outstanding crew of hoopsters took to the floor 26 times and garnered 26 W’s.
This was the first-ever Lancers’ team to go undefeated in a season and they flat-out dominated. Twenty-four of the victories were double-digit affairs as they bombed away, hitting an astonishing 68 three-pointers. Tough defense was instituted as well as opponents were stifled offensively, averaging a mere 19 points per contest. 
Laguna Middle School chalked up two tournament victories along the way as they were crowned champs in both the Lewis Tournament in November and the St. Patrick’s Tournament in December. To pull off a “perfecto” as such, a team requires depth and that was a key element that enabled the Lancers to employ a fast-and-furious defensive scheme by means of substitutions, a most necessary ploy as they suffocated opponents with their full-court press.
Coach Joe Ottrando did a masterful job of molding the boys into some kind of cohesive unit. Hey, how about a shout-out to Jude Callahan, Jamar Howard, Nolan Attala, Colby White, Asher Bryson, Brady Birdsong, Darain Mensah, Eli Rooney, Owen Speidal, Graham Edwards, Peyton Weiss and Jamarri Nozil. Kudos to all of these young athletes. And I’m sure thanks are in order for the unparalleled support these boys received from family and friends on their way to perfection. 
These boys now have memories for a lifetime. Their 2017 season has been permanently etched into the lore of Laguna Middle School 7th grade basketball. And perhaps the most important facet of the triumphant season is that they learned the values of commitment, sportsmanship and teamwork that hopefully will resonate with them forever. Perfect!
Super Bowl Preview- Philadelphia Eagles: One of the nastiest, stingiest defenses in the NFL and the sudden heroics of backup quarterback Nick Foles have the birds on the brink of Philly’s first-ever Super Bowl coronation. The coaching staff has been masterful at game-planning Philadelphia, as home underdogs, to two playoff wins and the Bowl berth. That defense is the heart of the team but the soul belongs to the three-pronged running attack consisting of powerful Jay Ajayi, jack-hammer LeGarrette Blount and shifty Corey Clement. This team is as tough as their city! 
New England Patriots: Owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady seek their sixth Super Bowl title and third in four years. Unprecedented! All of the superlatives ring true: An outstanding offense that keeps defenses off-balance; a bend-but-don’t-break defense that suffocates opposing offensive attacks when the fourth quarter rolls around and games are on the line; a placekicker to be trusted in the clutch. This is the coaching staff’s last go-around together as the Pats’ long-time offensive and defensive coordinators are taking their talents elsewhere after the game.
Prediction: Look for the Eagles’ defensive front four to be disruptive and make Brady very uncomfortable in the pocket. He is not very agile and if Philly brings linebackers on blitzes it could be a long day for New England. Backup qb Foles for the Eagles will be the key to the game. Will the lights shine too brightly for him or will his coming-of-age as a professional quarterback continue on? Philadelphia will give New England all they can handle, but Belichick will confuse Noles with defensive deception and the Patriots shall hoist the Lombardi Trophy. 

By Michael Elliott

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