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Estancia gets spark from sophomore running back in first start

Estancia's Andrew Coyotzi (34) breaks into the secondary and heads for the end zone for a touchdown.
Estancia’s Andrew Coyotzi breaks into the secondary and heads for the end zone for a touchdown during an Orange Coast League football opener against Saddleback on Friday at Jim Scott Stadium.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

As far as first impressions go, sophomore Andrew Coyotzi made sure his was one that would stick with the Estancia High School football team.

Coyotzi amassed over 100 total yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, as Estancia celebrated a 41-2 homecoming win over Saddleback on Friday in an Orange Coast League opener at Jim Scott Stadium.

Estancia (4-2) has exploded for three touchdowns in the first quarter in back-to-back games. The Eagles also accomplished that feat on the road last week in a 43-0 win at Lakewood Artesia.

After the Eagles’ defense forced a punt on the opening series, Cameron Knickerbocker found Coyotzi out of the backfield for a 44-yard touchdown on Estancia’s initial play on offense.

Estancia's Andrew Coyotzi (34) breaks into the open field and heads for the end zone.
Estancia’s Andrew Coyotzi breaks into the open field and heads for the end zone for a touchdown.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“I was nervous at first,” Coyotzi said. “Before the game, I just felt like I was going to throw up the whole time, but once I got in there, the first play happened, and I was pumped. I knew that this was going to be amazing.”

Estancia coach Mike Bargas said he decided to give Coyotzi the start with the Eagles dealing with nagging injuries to their backfield.

“He’s only a sophomore, and he’s gone from not playing too much to being our return guy and safety and tailback,” Bargas said of Coyotzi.

The highlight of the evening for Coyotzi was a 73-yard rushing touchdown that gave the Eagles a 20-0 lead with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter. Coyotzi dashed in and out of traffic, making a couple of defenders miss in the second level, before finding the end zone.

Estancia's Cameron Knickerbocker (7) runs down the sideline for a long touchdown run.
Estancia’s Cameron Knickerbocker runs down the sideline for a long touchdown run.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“I saw a couple of guys and decided to put on some moves, and once I saw I was still up, I just kept running for the touchdown, and I got there,” Coyotzi said.

Knickerbocker had a fine first half, too, completing all eight of his passing attempts for 129 yards and two touchdowns. The completions went to five receivers — Trevor Thomas, Noah Aires, Dion Kerkhoff, Jesus Acuna and Coyotzi.

Acuna was on the receiving end of a goal-line target that gave Estancia a 34-0 lead over Saddleback (3-3) going into halftime.

Knickerbocker was also the Eagles’ leading rusher, turning six carries into 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Estancia's Josh Romero (42) gets loose into the open field for a big gain during an Orange Coast League football opener.
Estancia’s Josh Romero gets loose into the open field for a big gain.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“All we wanted was to start the [league] season off with a good win, start off undefeated, and we’ll keep working next week,” Knickerbocker said.

Josh Romero added 56 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Aires chipped in with 63 rushing yards and a punt block on special teams.

The Estancia defense did not give up any points for the second week in a row, but the shutout was lost midway through the fourth quarter when the ball was snapped out of the back of the end zone with the Eagles in punt formation.

Estancia's Trevor Thomas (8) is tripped up just short of the end zone during an Orange Coast League football opener.
Estancia’s Trevor Thomas is tripped up just short of the end zone.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

An Eagles secondary that included Trey Sanchez, who had an interception, Asa Davis and Kerkhoff played a pivotal role in the defensive effort, limiting Saddleback quarterback Albert Marquez to 90 passing yards on 33 attempts.

“They’re fearless,” Bargas said. “We get beat a few times deep, but they just shake it off, so they just keep going at it. They’re not scared.”

Estancia travels to take on Orange (3-3) on Oct. 9 at Fred Kelly Stadium on the campus of El Modena High School.

Saddleback's Rodrigo Nieves is tackled by Estancia's Asa Davis (2) as August Stanton (22) and Oswaldo Sanchez (18) close in.
Saddleback’s Rodrigo Nieves is tripped up by Estancia’s Asa Davis (2) as August Stanton (22) and Oswaldo Sanchez (18) close in on him.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Orange Coast League

Estancia 41, Saddleback 2

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Saddleback 0 - 0 - 0 - 2 — 2

Estancia 20 - 14 - 7 - 0 — 41

FIRST QUARTER

E – Coyotzi 44 pass from Knickerbocker (Avalos kick), 9:59.

E – Knickerbocker 39 run (Avalos kick), 6:28.

E – Coyotzi 73 run (run failed), 1:42.

SECOND QUARTER

E – Romero 2 run (Avalos kick), 7:20.

E – Acuna 2 pass from Knickerbocker (Avalos kick), 3:25.

THIRD QUARTER

E – Knickerbocker 27 run (Avalos kick), 10:33.

FOURTH QUARTER

S – Safety (Snap out of back of end zone), 5:24.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

S – Marquez, 5-26.

E – Knickerbocker, 6-93, 2 TDs; Coyotzi, 6-88, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

S – Marquez, 12-33-1, 90.

E – Knickerbocker, 8-10-0, 129, 2 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

S – Ramirez, 6-51.

E – Coyotzi, 3-55, 1 TD; Thomas, 2-41.

::

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