Los Angeles Preps: Frank Mazzotta

Porter emerges as a La Habra legend

November, 29, 2011
Aaron PorterCourtesy of Arnold LeosAaron Porter is a four-year varsity player for La Habra, which has won four section titles in a row.

LA HABRA -- Since his days as a wide-eyed youth, dating to well before age five, Aaron Porter has been closely associated with La Habra football.

Years later, little has changed. The senior linebacker is still a fixture in the grand scheme, and has successfully emerged this season as one of the Southland's premier prospects at his position.

The Highlanders, naturally, have followed suit in terms of on-field success.

Porter & Co. head into Friday night's CIF-Southern Section semifinal playoff game against Lake Forest El Toro with plenty of momentum as a result. A victory, in fact, is the only thing separating the Highlanders from an appearance in the Southwest Division championship game and the opportunity to secure a rather remarkable fifth consecutive section title.

“What can I say about Aaron Porter, tell me, how much time do you have? There is plenty to talk about with him, he is a special kid,'' La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said. “He means everything to this team and school. Aaron is a leader through and through.''

To gain a better understanding of where Porter, a potential UCLA commit, is heading, perhaps it is best to take a quick look back at his Highlanders roots.

His father, Tony Porter, took a position on the coaching staff at La Habra close to 14 years ago, right around the time Mazzotta was hired. Not surprisingly, son Aaron tagged along for the ride while Dad attended to his defensive coordinator responsibilities.

“We always knew Aaron would end up at La Habra, that's all he knew growing up,'' Tony Porter said. “I like to think that I have seen a lot of good players come and go over the years. Aaron is a student of the game, so I'm sure he remembers all those guys too.''

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Servite, which won a second consecutive Pac-5 football championship this season behind a brick wall defense and a lightning quick running back, swept the top awards for the Southern Section’s marquee division.

Hard-hitting linebacker Matt Inman was named the defensive player of the year in the division, and running back Malik Felton – who began the season as a slot receiver but moved to tailback after a series of injuries – was named the offensive player of the year.

Troy Thomas, whose team won 25 in a row before losing badly to Concord De La Salle in the California Open Bowl Championship, was named the section’s coach of the year.

Eight Servite players made the All-Pac 5 team, while there were seven from Mission Viejo—which was undefeated going into the Pac-5 title game—and four from Los Alamitos.

Others who received top awards in their respective sections were quarterback Cody Clements, junior linebacker Aaron Porter and Coach Frank Mazzotta of La Habra in the Southwest Division; and Garden Grove’s Josh Webb – who played quarterback, receiver and running back – and Coach Willy Puga, and Corona del Mar linebacker Preston Risser in the Southern Division.

Here is a complete list of Orange County players who were selected. Click here for the list of all divisions.

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Southwest Division: La Habra 35, Tustin 26

December, 11, 2010
ANAHEIM – The tally on La Habra's fourth consecutive Southern Section championship will show that the Highlanders scored five touchdowns, including the decisive one midway through the fourth quarter.

But when the history of third-seeded La Habra's 35-26 Southwest Division victory over top-seeded Tustin is recalled, it will be the second and third ones that are talked about, and the fact that the Highlanders beat Tustin at its own game.

La Habra (11-3) matched St. Margaret's as the only team in Orange County to ever win four consecutive titles. The Highlanders' three losses were to Trinity League teams Servite, Orange Lutheran and St. John Bosco. Tustin finished 12-2 in front of 7,294 at Angel Stadium.

La Habra senior Drake Griffin carried 29 times for 317 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 44, 11, four and nine yards. The Highlanders also salvaged the first half with a TD drive in the final minute, and they drove 93 yards on their first possession of the second half. That's where the title was won.

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Orange County: It's no secret, Servite could rough him up good

September, 16, 2010
Frank Mazzotta hasn't returned my phone calls, but my guess is it's so he won't have to be coy about whether Cody Clements will play Friday against No. 1 Servite as it takes on Mazzotta's No. 15 La Habra squad.

Courtesy of Laurence Martinez
Servite coach Troy Thomas says he hopes Cody Clements plays for La Habra on Friday.

Clements' right knee, which he had surgically repaired as a sophomore, was injured in the season opener against Orange Lutheran, and the dual-threat Washington State-bound quarterback has too bright a future to risk in a nonleague game against the most physical team the Highlanders (1-1) will play.

Naturally, it's to La Habra's benefit that Servite (2-0) not know whether Clements will be in or out of the lineup when the teams take the field Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Cerritos College.

"We hope he plays," said Troy Thomas, the Servite coach whose defense might be even better than it was a year ago when it won the Pac-5 and State Division II Bowl championship. "We want to play their best."

Even though Mazzotta has been able to keep Clements' status a secret, you can be sure of one thing: Servite is practicing as if Clements will play, and if he doesn't, it will be a tough night for Matt Yackey when he's not handing the ball off to Ahmad Avery and Drake Griffin -- which will probably be about 98 percent of the time.

Orange County: La Habra-OLu has plenty of buzz value

September, 2, 2010
For the last two years La Habra has been playing up in the nonleague portion of its schedule, taking on Los Alamitos and San Clemente, so that the medium division team might have its weaknesses exposed by higher division programs. That strategy allowed the Highlanders, who have won three consecutive section titles, to make corrections and get better. Yet only once has La Habra actually beaten a Division I opponent. Last year it beat San Clemente, 29-28, after losing to Los Alamitos, 28-13, during a 13-1 season. It dropped both games in 2008, 28-21.

That's why its nonleague games this season are so intriguing. La Habra, ranked 15th in the ESPNLA top 25, seems to be inviting disaster by playing three Trinity League opponents -- No. 17 Orange Lutheran, No. 1 Servite and St. John Bosco.

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