Estancia High football Coach Mike Bargas said he challenged his team leading up to Thursday's 42-14 Orange Coast League victory over Godinez. He wanted a big special teams play and Matt Carlyle delivered, helping spoil the Grizzlies' homecoming game and keep Estancia in first place.
The senior's 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the second quarter gave the Eagles a 14-7 halftime lead. And, though Carlyle had another kickoff return for a touchdown called back on the second-half kickoff, fellow senior Cameron Collins had a 51-yard kickoff return just minutes later.
That got the ball to the Godinez 40-yard line, giving Estancia momentum in what was then a 14-14 tie. The Eagles (3-4, 2-0 in league) went on to score touchdowns on each of their next four possessions.
"That's big when you get special teams as a little bit of a weapon, too," Bargas said. "We had some blocks up front, and Matt and Cameron have some good little speed. That was huge. I wouldn't call our kids fast but they play smart."
Corona del Mar High senior quarterback Mitch Gardner threw half of his 12 completions to junior Josh Giger in the Sea Kings' 28-23 Pacific Coast League win at Irvine High Thursday night.
And while Giger came into the game with only two receptions, it's no secret why he and Gardner showed a clear comfort level with one another against the Vaqueros.
The two Sea Kings, who are cousins, have been hooking up for years. They are not only related, but they grew up on the same street, seven houses apart.
Gigor's first catch Friday went for 22 yards to help set up the Sea Kings' first touchdown and he had catches on three subsequent CdM touchdown drives, including two on third down to move the chains.
Costa Mesa High played the first of four straight games at Jim Scott Stadium on Friday.
The Mustangs got off to a good start at their home venue, picking up their first Orange League victory when they beat Saddleback, 28-15.
Costa Mesa (2-5, 1-1 in league) on Thursday faces Calvary Chapel (6-1, 2-0), ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll. The Eagles will be the home team in the game.
Costa Mesa is 7-0 all-time against Calvary Chapel, outscoring the Eagles, 211-41, during the series.
For the first time since 2007, Newport Harbor suffered a shutout in Sunset League play, losing to Los Alamitos, 30-0, Thursday at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.
The Sailors (4-3, 1-1 in league) struggled on both sides of the ball, failing to reach 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing.
Los Alamitos (5-2, 2-0) forced Newport Harbor to punt seven times. The Sailors went almost 14 minutes, a stretch spanning the first quarter and third quarter, without a first down.
The Griffins snapped a three-game losing streak to the Sailors.
Next for Newport Harbor is a league contest against Edison (5-2, 2-0) at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
The Sailors last beat the Chargers in 1979. Edison has won the last five meetings, and in each game Newport Harbor has been unable to record double-digit points.
Costa Mesa quarterback Nathan Alvis passed and ran for a touchdown Friday, giving the junior 11 touchdowns through the air and eight touchdowns on the ground this season.
Alvis completed 16 of 25 passes for 219 yards against Saddleback. He had 55 yards on eight carries.
Estancia appears to be well-stocked at the running back position for upcoming seasons, with a trio of talented sophomores. Robert Murtha had another big game Thursday, rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns, but Colby Koste also scored his first varsity touchdown with a five-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Koste also had two fourth-down carries earlier in the game, picking up the first down on each. Deionte' Haywood ran for 38 yards on five carries as well.
"We have a little bit of depth this year," Bargas said. "One guys comes out, and the other guy reloads. They're all young, they're all sophomores, but they play beyond [that]."
Newport Harbor senior Parker Norton started at receiver and cornerback and returned kicks last week despite dealing with cracked ribs.
The senior caught four passes for 14 yards, giving him a Sunset League-best 44 catches to go with 399 yards and four touchdowns.
CdM needed a stop in the final minute to secure its first league victory since 2008, but the triumph might have been in the bag had not Sea Kings defenders shown a collective case of butterfingers. Five times, CdM defenders had their hands on a pass from Irvine quarterback Jake Day, but failed to hold possession each time.
The Eagles didn't really need more motivation for Thursday night's game, but they knew it was Godinez's homecoming and that teams usually schedule homecoming games they think they can win.
"We did use that a little as motivation," senior quarterback John Diego said. "We didn't want to lose on their homecoming; we didn't want to make their night. This [win] definitely made our night."
CdM (5-1-1, 1-0-1 in league), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, will get a chance to move into solid position as a Pacific Coast League title contender Friday, when it plays host to No. 3-ranked Woodbridge (5-2, 2-0) at 7 p.m. at Newport Harbor High.
The Newport Harbor-Los Alamitos game featured two coaches with a combined 491 Orange County victories.
Los Alamitos' John Barnes has the county's most wins (285) and Brinkley (206) is No. 8. Barnes is in his 32nd season with the Griffins. He spent one year at Magnolia.
Brinkley has been at Newport Harbor since 1986.
Costa Mesa allowed a running back to top 100 yards rushing for the first time in three games.
Saddleback tailback Luis Soto recorded 157 yards in the first half and finished with 281 yards and one touchdown on 43 carries.
The Mustangs have seen two running backs reach 200 yards on the ground against them this season.
Newport Harbor quarterback Austin Rios made his return against Los Alamitos after sitting out the previous week due a concussion suffered on Oct. 8.
Rios completed seven of 17 passes for a season-low 37 yards. Coach Jeff Brinkley replaced the senior with backup Cole Blower with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter. Blower completed four of his five pass attempts for 42 yards.
Brinkley said Rios would start this week against Edison.
Coach Jeremy Osso said Costa Mesa is going with two kickers.
Junior Peter Marquez and sophomore Jake Lux are taking turns attempting conversion kicks and field goals.
— From staff reports