The second part of the high school football season starts this week for four local schools. To reach the third phase, the playoffs, each team has to perform in league play.
Let league play begin.
Corona del Mar and Estancia have the toughest league openers. Both are on the road and both face teams ranked in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division.
Top-ranked CdM (4-1) opens Pacific Coast League play against No. 7-ranked Northwood (2-3) on Thursday at Irvine High at 7 p.m.
Sixth-ranked Estancia (3-2) kicks off Orange Coast League play at No. 5-ranked Laguna Beach (5-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Getting off to the right start is vital for both CdM and Estancia to defend their respective league titles.
The Sea Kings are coming off a bye; the Eagles off a nonleague loss.
Coach Scott Meyer is in his first year at CdM, so the Pacific Coast League will be new to him. He is well aware that his league is the best in the Southern Division, with five of its teams ranked in the top 10. Three of those teams, which include CdM, reached the semifinals of the playoffs last year.
Coach Mike Bargas knows the Orange Coast League very well having spent the past four seasons at Estancia, winning it twice during that span. The Eagles were the favorites before the season, but Laguna Beach has been impressive during its nonleague schedule.
The Breakers have given the Eagles fits under Bargas. In Bargas' first three years, Laguna Beach beat Estancia each time. The biggest setback was a 17-13 decision in Bargas' first year, which cost Estancia an outright league title.
Bargas was finally able to knock off Laguna Beach, 36-10, last year. The Eagles went on to go undefeated and claim the program's first outright league crown in 21 years.
The two programs open league again.
"They're all tough," Bargas said last week, when asked about playing a ranked opponent for the third straight week.
The Breakers are averaging 53.4 points in their first five contests.
So far, Estancia is 1-1 against ranked teams, beating Northwood, 43-27, and losing to No.2-ranked Beckman, 12-10.
Newport Harbor has competed against the most daunting nonleague schedule in the area. The Sailors played two teams ranked in the Pac-5 Division in No. 3-ranked San Clemente (6-0) and No. 7-ranked Loyola (5-1) of Los Angeles, as well as CdM.
The Sailors (2-3) should be more than ready for their Sunset League opener at home against Fountain Valley (3-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. Under Coach Jeff Brinkley, Newport Harbor is 4-1 in Sunset League openers.
Wally Grant makes his Orange Coast League debut in charge of Costa Mesa on Friday, when the Mustangs (4-1) play host to Godinez (3-2) at Jim Scott Stadium at 7 p.m. The two teams opened league against each other last year, with the Grizzlies winning, 42-41, in triple overtime.
Don't be surprised if it's another wild league opener because Costa Mesa is averaging 41.2 points per contest.
If you're looking for a haircut on Oct. 24, Estancia's football program is having an old-fashion rally night at Hot Headz Barbershop on 1635 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa after practice.
Donations toward the haircuts will go to the Estancia Football fund to help scholarship players.
Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar and Sage Hill School are ranked in the latest CIF Southern Section girls' volleyball polls.
The Sailors are No. 4 in Division I-AA, the Sea Kings No. 2 in Division I-A and the Lightning No. 4 in Division IV-AA.
The Corona del Mar girls' cross country team is No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division III poll.
Sage Hill's girls are No. 10 in Division V and the Lightning boys are No. 9 in Division V.