While a member of its football family was stricken suddenly with an illness that required hospitalization, Estancia High had also been ailing with a prolonged case of victory anemia heading into an Orange Coast League game against Saddleback on Thursday night.
After a 34-0 Eagles triumph, however, the players, coaches, as well as one inspirational father, are doing just fine, thank you.
Estancia receiver Tony Valdez said he wanted to do something special for his dad, D.J., who checked into Hoag Hospital on Thursday due to a mysterious infection. The two-year starter did just that at Costa Mesa High, contributing one of four explosive first-half touchdown plays to help the Eagles earn their first victory in more than a month.
Valdez hauled in a pass from quarterback Cameron Knickerbocker for a 43-yard scoring hookup that followed touchdown runs of 51 and 50 yards, respectively, by Beto Sotomayor and Nathan Pacheco to help Estancia seize control with a 20-point first quarter.
Knickerbocker pushed a short flip to Sotomayor for a 50-yard touchdown pass that capped a 27-0 first-half blitz, and Estancia’s Jeremiah Davis completed the scoring with an eight-yard sweep late in the third quarter.
Valdez added a 38-yard reception to help set up Davis’ touchdown run and Valdez finished with 81 receiving yards and his first touchdown of the season.
“My dad was hospitalized tonight and I wanted to do something big for him,” the younger Valdez said. “I knew I had to score my first touchdown tonight in honor of him. The infection came out of nowhere, but I heard he is doing OK, now.”
Similarly, the win lifted the Eagles’ spirits, said coach Mike Bargas, whose squad improved to 2-5 overall and 1-1 in league play by ending a four-game losing streak.
“It was a good win for us,” Bargas said after his team posted its first shutout of the season, the third of the year incurred by the Roadrunners (1-6, 0-2), who have dropped six consecutive games. “Any win is a good win for us at this point. It is nice to get back on the winning side.”
“We finally scored some points on offense [after having totaled just 50 in six previous games] and the defense did a great job, like it has been doing all season,” Bargas added. “It’s good for us to finally get a victory after a month dry spell.”
The Estancia defense gulped up ballcarriers all evening, holding Saddleback to just 125 offensive yards.
Cameron Ruehling, Chris Pacheco and Steven Colindres were all in on sacks for the Eagles, for whom cornerbacks Elijah Montoya and Yovani Avila broke up passes, the latter in the end zone to save a touchdown.
Eleven Saddleback offensive plays resulted in negative yards and the Eagles halted the Roadrunners for no gain six more times.
Eagles Nathan Zalpa and Mario Mondragon recovered Saddleback fumbles, the former to set up Estancia’s first touchdown.
Meanwhile, Estancia amassed 273 of its 415 yards of offense on the ground. Pacheco collected 115 yards on 12 rushing attempts and Sotomayor added 85 yards on six carries.
Knickerbocker completed five of nine pass attempts for 139 yards, including the two aforementioned touchdown tosses. He had another would-be touchdown pass dropped by an open receiver in the end zone.
Orange Coast League
Estancia 34, Saddleback 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Saddleback 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
Estancia 20 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 34
E – Sotomayor 51 run (Avila kick), 7:36.
E – N. Pacheco 50 run (kick failed), 4:12.
E – Valdez 43 pass from Knickerbocker (Avila kick), 1:12.
E – Sotomayor 50 pass Knickerbocker (Avila kick), 4:10.
E – Davis 8 run (Avila kick), 2:05.
S – Madrid, 8-60.
E – N. Pacheco, 12-115, 1 TD.
S – Soto, 3-8-0, 17.
E – Knickerbocker, 5-9-0, 139, 2 TDs.
S – Santay, 1-13.
E – Valdez, 2-81, 1 TD.
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