Party time for Eagles

COSTA MESA — Boys and girls lined up to enter the Estancia High gymnasium for a special lunch Wednesday. Before they got in, they checked in with one of the coaches responsible for letting them have a free meal during the school's lunch hour.

If your name was not on the list football coach Mike Bargas had in his hand, you were not getting in.

But everyone in line was waiting for a legit reason. They all played a part in helping Estancia keep the All-Sports Cup at home.

The Eagles' treat for beating cross-town rival Costa Mesa for the trophy awarded to the best high school athletic program in the city was catered food by the Newport Rib Co. Estancia has claimed the huge prize and spread in each of the two years of the competition's existence.

This school year's competition, which Costa Mesa United runs, was not even close. The Eagles beat the Mustangs, 120-60, each boys' and girls' team contributes five points for a rivalry victory, 2.5 points for a rivalry tie, and only in football does a team earn 15 points per rivalry win.

John Ursini, the owner of Newport Rib Co., created the All-Sports Cup because he wanted to highlight the special rivalry between Estancia and Costa Mesa.

"This was modeled after the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy that USC and UCLA does [annually]," said Ursini, who wanted to do more for Estancia and Costa Mesa, which play for the Battle for the Bell trophy in only three sports, football, baseball and basketball. "I always appreciated what the Scotts [the late Jim Scott, and now his son Jim Scott Jr.] do with doing the Bell trophy. [Jim Scott Jr.] can only do so many sports. He just got to the point where it's hard to do [for every sport]. We support that, and he brings the [winning football, baseball, boys' and girls' basketball team] over to Newport Rib Co. and it's great.

"For me, [I've] always been kind of a fan of all sports, all teams, everybody counts."

Every varsity athlete at Estancia got to taste barbecued chopped beef brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, with barbecued beans, mashed potatoes and coleslaw.

Seeing the athletes load up their plates with food, smiling as they walked toward to get a drink where the trophy was on display made Ursini's day. He used to be one of them. He was an athlete at Estancia, graduated from the school in 1982, and later coached soccer from 1989 to 1991.

"I think it's just the right thing to do for the kids of the Costa Mesa area," Ursini said. "It seemed like Costa Mesa United was all good for raising money and things, but at the end of the day, the kids I think appreciate just competition, and this represents what competition is all about."

Estancia earned the bragging rights against Costa Mesa in many sports this season. On the trophy, it shows which school's sports team outscored the other.

Football earned, 15, and it is understandable why because Estancia and Costa Mesa usually play once a season. That one game this past November was a special one for Estancia.

Bargas' Eagles clinched their first undefeated Orange Coast League title by defeating Costa Mesa, 35-6, in the regular-season finale. The league title was the program's first outright championship in 21 years.

The boys' golf team finished perfect for the entire regular season, a first for the program. Coach Art Perry led the Eagles to two victories against the Mustangs, as Estancia went 17-0, 14-0 in the Orange Coast League.

Baseball also shined under Coach Matt Sorensen. For the first time under his four-year watch, the Eagles swept Costa Mesa, winning each of the three Orange Coast League games. The three wins gave Estancia 15 points in the All-Sports Cup competition.

"It makes a big statement about the swing in power," said Sorensen, whose Eagles were the only baseball program in Newport-Mesa to advance to the CIF Southern Section playoffs this season. "[Costa Mesa Coach] Jim Kiefer has done an unbelievable job there. They just absolutely handled us the first two years that I was here. But everything goes in cycles."

Estancia can also be proud of its girls' basketball team, led by co-coaches Xavier Castellano and Judd Fryslie. The Eagles swept their two-game series with Costa Mesa and went on to win the Orange Coast League title by going 10-0, the program's first league crown since 2003.

"We've been very fortunate in our athletic programs," said Jessica Gatica, the girls' athletic director at Estancia. "[I'm] incredibly proud of the girls, from last year to this year, we've had a lot of improvements in a lot of our sports.

"I definitely feel like the trophy adds to the rivalry, because of course you want to have the bragging rights of having the trophy."

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