At 7 p.m. Friday, a showdown for the early lead in the Orange Coast League championship race will go down at Jim Scott Stadium, where Laguna Beach travels to face Estancia.
The game pits teams ranked in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division top 10 poll. It's the No. 3 Breakers (5-0-1) vs. the Eagles (4-2), who are tied for the No. 10 spot.
In the preseason Southern Division rankings, Estancia was No. 3 and Laguna No. 4.
For all the ramifications Friday's game holds, Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said thoughts about the game weren't mentioned until Saturday, the day after the Breakers started their league journey with a 49-6 victory over Saddleback.
"After we watched game film from Saddleback on Saturday, I said, 'This is it,' " Churchill said, in reference to the Estancia game. "I don't think before that we brought this game up one time.
"We've been telling the kids all season that good teams play well every week and improve every week. To reach the week of a big game, you need to be ready for it. I think we are."
Laguna tuned up for the defending league champions by rolling by Saddleback. In that 49-6 victory, the Breakers ran off just 29 plays, 23 coming on the ground. Senior Robert Clemons continued his stellar special teams play by returning the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and also scored on a 55-yard punt return.
Drake Martinez rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries, Nathan Lancaster ran for 130 yards and two scores on eight touches and Andres DelaRosa also rushed for a score. Martinez, who set the school record for career touchdowns two weeks ago against Pioneer, set the career scoring record against Saddleback. Martinez now has 286 career points and broke the previous record of 276 set by Chris Paul (2008-10).
"They are on a roll right now," Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said of the Breakers. "They've got some studs in the backfield, a good quarterback and are averaging 50 points a game. We have our hands full. We're going to have to find a way to slow them down and put up some points of our own."
Estancia lost star running back Robert Murtha to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of a 20-18 loss on Sept. 13 to Irvine. Murtha, the Offensive Player of the Year last year in the Orange Coast League, missed one game — Sept. 20 against University — a game the Eagles lost, 45-28.
Murtha has since returned and the Eagles returned to their winning ways. Last week, they edged city rival Costa Mesa, 15-13. Murtha was held to a season-low 52 yards on 16 carries and hurt his ankle twice in the fourth quarter. His only score in the game came on a decisive two-point conversion run in the third quarter.
"Murtha is a fine player, but they (Estancia) are more than one (running) back," Churchill said. "They have good athletes on that team. I think No. 8 (running back/linebacker Colby Koste) and No. 2 (receiver/defensive back Deion Te'Haywood) are real good football players."
The Eagles have been a banged up group this season. Bargas said that all-league defensive lineman Kevin Peters, who also was starting on the offensive line, will be out of action for a third straight week due to a knee injury. Te'Haywood (ankle) missed the Sonora game Sept. 28, but is back. Starting wide receiver/defensive end Matt Jarmacz suffered a concussion and all-league quarterback Brad Wilson had a groin injury in last week's game against Costa Mesa, Bargas said.
"It's been one of those seasons," he said. "We haven't been a full strength for most of our games so far."
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