COSTA MESA — The first play from scrimmage was the biggest all night for the Estancia High football team, but it was also a good omen.
A 46-yard double pass from John Diego to Matt Carlyle to a streaking Cameron Collins sent a message to visiting Laguna Beach.
Everything went smoothly after that for the Eagles, who shocked the defending Orange Coast League champions by winning, 36-10, in the league opener for both schools at Jim Scott Stadium.
The three seniors, Diego, Carlyle and Collins, started getting things going. They helped the Eagles beat Laguna Beach for the first time since the league was formed.
Sophomore Robert Murtha, who ran for a career-high 229 yards and three touchdowns, realized how much the game meant to the class of 2011.
"This is the first time our senior team has beaten Laguna," Murtha said. "We wanted to win this for our seniors. "This is a really special game. We feel that we can be league champs this year."
On a night when Estancia retired the No. 37 jersey of the late Brian "Bubba" Kapko, the former Eagle who was killed in a car accident in 2005, Coach Mike Bargas' Eagles looked plenty motivated.
The Eagles (2-4), who snapped a four-game losing streak, took it to the Breakers (1-5) early. Each of the first two drives culminated in touchdowns.
Diego dived in from a yard out just more than three minutes into the game, giving Estancia the lead.
Then, the Eagles made a statement on defense. Laguna Beach not only had to go three-and-out on its first possession, but senior quarterback Austin Paxson was sacked twice, first by Ozzy Magana and then by the combination of Alipa Peters and Juan Mejia.
"It was the whole defensive line, the whole defense stepping up," said Mejia, the senior end who was in on four sacks. "[Defensive backs], linebackers, everybody did a terrific job of keeping their receivers contained. It was everybody as a team."
Estancia went on a 54-yard drive that culminated on Murtha's three-yard touchdown scamper, and the Eagles were rolling. They scored again on their fourth possession, this time Murtha following a block from his senior fullback George De La Torre to score from 15 yards out.
That score gave the Eagles a 22-3 lead. They had almost matched the 26-point total from their four previous losses by halftime, and Murtha already had 148 yards at the intermission.
"I felt that we were going to be able to bounce back as a team," Murtha said. "We've just been working hard in practice all week. We've been busting our [behind]. We've been doing everything we can and when it came down to it, our team stepped up to the plate."
The Breakers' aerial attack was grounded much of the game as standout senior receiver Chris Paul was held to just four catches for 40 yards.
Estancia added another Murtha touchdown and a 35-yard scamper up the middle by sophomore Deionte' Haywood, capping a memorable night for the Eagles.
"John also did a nice job [at quarterback], he audibled when he needed to and really stepped up for us," Bargas said. "It's a big character test for us, a four-week skid and then to come back and take care [of business]. Laguna Beach is the best team in the league. They're the defending champs."
The Eagles, however, have served notice.
"We're coming back," Mejia said. "We beat the league champs, but we've still got to practice for our next game [against Godinez]. It's only getting tougher."
Estancia 36, Laguna Beach 10
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 0 – 3 – 0 – 7 — 10
Estancia 15 – 7 – 7 – 7 — 36
Est – Diego 1 run (Diego kick), 8:45.
Est – Murtha 3 run (De La Torre run), 3:39.
LB – Paxson 28 FG, 10:19.
Est – Murtha 15 run (Diego kick), 1:57.
Est – Murtha 14 run (Diego kick), 4:27.
LB – Reigel 17 pass from Paxson (Paxson kick), 7:19.
Est – Haywood 35 run, 6:01.
LB – Penney, 13-54.
Est – Murtha, 36-229, 3 TDs.
LB – Paxson, 11-20-0, 104, 1 TD.
Est – Carlyle, 1-1-0, 46.
LB – Paul, 4-40.
Est – Collins, 2-60.