GARDEN GROVE — Brad Wilson and Ben Beck said they've been best friends since preschool.
The Estancia High juniors grew up down the street from each other in their Costa Mesa neighborhood. Whether it was throwing around the pigskin, riding bikes down to the beach or anything in-between, Wilson and Beck have been inseparable.
"It definitely comes back to the football field," Wilson said. "We understand each other … definitely the connection is there, on and off the field."
Now Wilson is the Eagles' starting quarterback and Beck is a starting receiver. As for the connection? It looked pretty good Friday afternoon in the Eagles' season opener at Bolsa Grande.
Wilson had four touchdown passes — three to Beck — as Estancia routed the host Matadors, 56-0. The point differential matched the largest margin of victory in Estancia program history; the Eagles also beat Bolsa Grande by the same 56-0 score in 2006.
Estancia Coach Mike Bargas, whose Eagles are ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll, typically utilizes more of a run-first approach. But Bargas said Bolsa Grande was blitzing so much early on that he was forced to go to the air.
Wilson, who passed for all 146 of his yards in the first half, was ready. He credited his offensive line for his performance, and special teams helped, too.
Wilson had a short field late in the first quarter thanks to Beck's 35-yard punt return. On the next play from scrimmage, he rolled left before finding tight end Colby Koste for a 15-yard touchdown in the front of the end zone. Koste wrestled the ball away from Bolsa Grande defensive back Justin Jaime on the play.
Beck, who finished with five catches for 131 yards and also scored on a punt return, continued making his imprint on the game. He almost matched his jersey No. 5 in touchdowns in the second quarter alone.
After a Bolsa Grande three and out, Wilson's play-action toss to an open Beck gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead. They increased it on their next possession, when Wilson connected with a streaking Beck for a 50-yard pass over the middle of the field.
"It's a good little combo," Bargas said. "We've got that connection."
Bolsa Grande again failed to move the ball. This time, Beck made sure the offense didn't even need to get on the field. He caught the punt at the Bolsa Grande 43-yard line, fumbling it at first. He quickly recovered, cutting the run back across to the home sideline and again finding the end zone.
"I got a good block from Ozzy [Magana] coming off the side and I took it," Beck said. "I don't know how I picked [the ball] up. I was kind of scared."
Beck had nothing to be worried about. On Estancia's final possession of the first half, he scored again on a short route, diving and getting the ball just into the end zone. After Dan Cabrera's conversion kick, the Eagles were up, 35-0, four of the touchdowns coming from Beck.
Milton Gutierrez and Levi Stillman had interceptions to help preserve the shutout, and junior running back Robert Murtha added two touchdowns in the second half. The other score came late in the third quarter when Bolsa Grande botched a punt.
Magana tackled the punter in the end zone, causing a fumble that fellow senior Alex Rodriguez recovered. The Eagles were on their way to extending Bolsa Grande's losing streak, which dates back to 2008, to 23 games.
"It was just working as a team, you know?" Magana said. "We came out here and first game, you usually have got to work as a team. We were rusty. We weren't happy with our performance, honestly. We've got a lot of things to work on, but we had a lot of good things to look at. We just have to get better from here. It only gets tougher from here. We've got a lot to prove this year."
Koste, a two-way starter at tight end and outside linebacker, left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Bargas said the junior would get X-rays.
"He's a really tough kid, so hopefully he bounces back from that deal," Bargas said. "We're going to have our hands full next week [at Buena Park]."