COSTA MESA — On a night where the Estancia defense caught almost as many passes as the Estancia offense, Coach Mike Bargas had reason to smile.
So did Robert Murtha, after his big night in his varsity debut helped the Eagles roll to a 55-0 season-opening win over Bolsa Grande at Estancia.
It was hard to find any fault in the Eagles' play, but Murtha's numbers definitely stood out after he carried the ball 20 times for 128 yards and four touchdowns.
"He ran well for a young guy," Bargas said. "It's always nice to be able to see somebody run the ball like that as a sophomore. He didn't run tentative. He just kind of hit the hole, and he got a couple nice runs where he got some yardage after the contact."
John Diego threw three touchdown passes for the Eagles, including a 49-yarder over the middle to Omar Gutierrez and a 40-yard slant to Matt Carlyle.
For most of the Eagles' possessions, Diego, Murtha and the offense didn't have a long field to work with. The Eagles were constantly on the Matadors' side of the field. That was at least partially due to the Eagles' five interceptions – all in the first half.
Senior safety Andrew Tenno and senior cornerback Jason Anaya had two each, and Miguel Mejia had the last pick for the Eagles just before halftime.
Bolsa Grande, with an inexperienced offensive line, decided to throw the ball with its rotating quarterback duo of Jake Flores and Isaac Rodriguez. Neither had much success getting much going against the Eagles defense, which preserved the shutout and sent Bolsa to its 13th straight loss dating back to 2008.
"Our defensive staff is doing a great job," said Bargas, who won his first season opener in four years at Estancia. "We didn't know what to expect, and the guys just did their job. My hat's off to the defensive staff, and special teams gelled as well.
"I just think we're a little bit more prepared this year."
Gutierrez blocked a Bolsa Grande punt and Tenno blocked a field goal, adding to the Eagles' domination.
Murtha only had to touch the ball four times after halftime, the last being his eight-yard touchdown run midway through the third. Bargas eventually brought in backup quarterbacks Cameron Collins, who caught a touchdown pass from Diego earlier in the game, and Brad Wilson in the fourth quarter.
Estancia senior Christian Maldonado capped the scoring with a five-yard scamper on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"It's really nice to come out and be able to get everybody a little piece of the action," Bargas said.