Football: La Habra earns respect despite loss
La Habra has won three straight CIF championships and rode a 10-game winning streak into Friday night's season opener against Pac-5 titan Orange Lutheran. It was a rare opportunity for the Division VI Highlanders to show they could compete with teams in the Southern Section's highest division... and compete they did.
La Habra gave the host Lancers all they could handle but, in the end, Orange Lutheran thwarted two desperate Highlanders drives in the last five minutes for a 21-17 victory at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.
Not to be overlooked was the gallant effort of La Habra quarterback Cody Clements, who threw for 252 yards and, despite having to be helped off the field after being injured on a sack by Orange Lutheran's Matt Truckey late in the game, came back in to throw two completions on the final possession before giving way to fellow senior Matt Yackey, who tried to scramble out of the pocket but fumbled with 19 seconds left, ending the Highlanders' comeback hopes.
Not to worry, La Habra still has two more cracks at Trinity League opponents, with games against St. John Bosco and 2009 state Division II bowl winner Servite, before starting Freeway League play.
As for Orange Lutheran, coach Jim Kunau showed guts replacing senior quarterback Mike Markovsky with junior Clark Livingston in the second half, especially considering Markovsky's arm and legs accounted for most of the Lancers' yardage in the first 24 minutes. Yet Livingston was also effective, especially on what turned out to be the game-winning march in the third quarter, converting back-to-back third-and-long situations into first downs to keep the drive alive.
La Habra running back Drake Griffin, a transfer from Santa Fe Springs St. Paul who was ruled eligible by the CIF in time to play, finished with six receptions for 40 yards and rushed for 30 yards in five carries. Clements' primary targets were Brett Bartalone (6 catches for 116 yards) and Jordan Salo (5 catches for 50 yards).
Graeme Fraser had a strong all-around game for Orange Lutheran, catching four passes for 43 yards and rushing for 22 yards in five carries. Jabari Wilson rushed 10 times for 50 yards and had two touchdowns for the Lancers, who host Los Angeles Garfield next Friday at Orange Coast College. Junior linebacker Tanner Ford made the game-clinching fumble recovery while sophomore defensive back Jason Martin recovered a fumble in the second quarter and nearly intercepted a sideline pass for a pick 6 early in the third quarter.
-- Steve Galluzzo