The Estancia High football team had a "Rudy" moment at the end of its 35-7 Orange Coast League triumph over visiting Godinez on Friday.
Senior Alex Tenno, whom Coach Mike Bargas said before the game is better than the former Notre Dame walk-on celebrated in the 1993 movie, in terms of a seldom-used player whose work ethic and drive inspires his teammates, upended a running back for no gain on the game's final play.
During warmups, junior starting defensive tackle Kevin Peters, who had asked Bargas to say a few words to the defensive linemen, made an impassioned speech to his peers. Peters, whom Bargas said seldom speaks a word, shouted at the center of a huddle of players about wanting to dominate, so Tenno, a defensive back, could get a chance to play.
Tenno's tackle sparked loud cheers from Estancia players as they streamed onto the field.
Corona del Mar High did not need extra motivation coming into its homecoming game Friday at Newport Harbor High.
But wearing throwback jerseys — light blue with dark blue numbers — certainly was an added bonus prior to the Sea Kings' 35-0 Pacific Coast League victory over Irvine.
Senior quarterback Brent Lawson said CdM (6-1, 2-0 in league) wore its usual dark blue jersey during warmups before returning to the locker room right before the game.
"Coach surprised us," Lawson said. "They were all laid out in the locker room. Everyone had their own jersey. He bought them for all of us, and we get to keep them. It's so fun. It was a good surprise for all the guys, and it got everybody pumped up."
Coach Scott Meyer said he thought the jerseys were fitting as CdM celebrated its 50th homecoming.
The Costa Mesa High defense has flexed its muscle the last three weeks.
The Mustangs have given up only seven points in their last three outings and posted their second 61-0 shutout in two weeks when they pummeled Saddleback on Friday at Santa Ana Bowl. While the offense was in high-gear all night, the defense not only put the clamps on the Roadrunners, but also added its mark to the scoreboard.
Late in the first quarter, junior outside linebacker Noah JeyaRajah scooped up a fumble caused by senior defensive end Jake Comer and returned it three yards for a touchdown.
Senior cornerback Marcus Hayes also came up with an interception in the second half.
The defense's aggressiveness pleased Coach Wally Grant.
"Our guys played well all the way through," Grant said of a game that used a running clock in the fourth quarter. "I think one of the biggest things that has really helped us, is that during the off-season, our kids bought into my weight-training program. They worked hard and as a result, they are bigger and stronger, and it's showing on the field.
"Last year, Godinez put up 34 points on us and Saddleback's big running back got some big yardage on us. This year, we're shutting those teams down. That's a tribute to the work these kids have done in the off-season."
Three would-be Sage Hill touchdowns were nullified by penalties in the Lightning's 29-28 Academy League-opening win Friday over visiting Crean Lutheran.
The opening kickoff was returned 95 yards for a touchdown, only to be nullified by a holding penalty.
One minute later, Eric Cheng's 27-yard TD run was erased by a holding call.
The holding bug bit the Lightning yet again with 6:29 left in the first half, as Cheng saw his 85-yard run called back.
Newport Harbor missed a chance to start Sunset League play with two wins for the first time since it rejoined the league five years ago.
The Sailors lost at Huntington Beach, 35-7. It was the Oilers' first win over the Tars since 1991.
With three league games left, the loss puts Newport Harbor in a tough position to earn one of the league's three berths into the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.
Newport Harbor dropped to 1-1 in league, one game behind Huntington Beach and Edison, which share first place at 2-0.
The Sailors, who are 3-4 overall, play host to defending champion Los Alamitos on Friday. Newport Harbor and Los Alamitos are tied for second place.
Newport Harbor closes out league with games at Marina and at home against Edison.
"Our backs are against the wall," said Coach Jeff Brinkley, whose Sailors have qualified for the playoffs the past two years. "We know now we've got to win some games here consecutively to have a chance to get into the playoffs."
Under Brinkley, the Sailors have defeated Marina every year in league since 2006. During that same stretch, Newport Harbor has lost to Edison every time.
Senior Jazz Hill made a statement in his first game for Estancia on Friday. The Brethren Christian transfer, whose eligibility was confirmed recently by the CIF Southern Section, caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Brad Wilson near the end of the first half.
Hill, who caught eight passes for 111 yards one touchdown and had five rushing attempts for 18 yards last season at Brethren Christian, said he was a two-way starter at receiver and defensive back for the Warriors.
He said he transferred to Estancia after moving in with his grandfather, who lives within the Estancia attendance boundaries. Hill also said his mother passed away last year and his father had recently been incarcerated.
"I always want to contribute every time I step on the field," Hill said of his debut touchdown that gave the Eagles a 13-0 lead with 53 seconds left before halftime.
CdM received a boost with the return of senior tight end Matt English.
English had been sidelined with a leg injury suffered in a 28-21 win at Huntington Beach on Sept. 9. He caught three passes for 30 yards against Irvine.
"That guy's a spark," Lawson said of English, a three-year starter at tight end. "Having him back just changes the whole dynamic of the offense, with his ability to block and everything."
Costa Mesa's decisive win, its sixth straight to improve to 6-1, finally earned it a place in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division's top-10 poll. The Mustangs, who are tied with rival Estancia atop the Orange Coast League standings (both at 2-0), are ranked No. 10 this week.
Sage Hill's defense came up big in the first half, posting two sacks (one by David Fenner), one fumble recovery and one interception.
The fumble and the interceptions, by end-linebacker Ford Hanour, helped a somewhat sluggish offense in first half.
Hanour played his first game at any level at defensive end, switching from his usual inside linebacker position. He returned his interception 25 yards with four seconds left in the first quarter to give the Lightning a 7-0 lead.
His 70-yard fumble return on a sack by Fenner, came with 19 seconds left in the first half.
"I think I'm the right body type for defensive end," Hanour said. "I was at the right place at the right time."
Newport Harbor totaled 122 yards of offense, its worst production of the season.
Newport Harbor went almost 26 minutes without a first down, a stretch from the second to fourth quarter. The Sailors got a first down with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. Two 15-yard penalties on the Oilers moved the chains.
On the next play, quarterback Cole Blower connected with tight end Vince Aqueveque on a 52-yard touchdown pass.
Blower finished with 126 yards on 13-of-18 passing. The senior hit nine players with passes.
While Estancia's offense has produced 68 percent of its yardage on the ground, balance has been an impressive feature of the Eagles' defense.
Estancia entered Friday's game against Godinez with its top four tacklers having collected between 44 and 41 stops.
Senior end Andy Ugalde, who recorded his eighth sack of the season against the Grizzlies, came in leading the pack with 44 tackles. Junior tackle Kevin Peters had 42, while senior inside linebacker Ozzy Magana and senior tackle Alipa Peters had 41 apiece.
Keeping with its "Time Warp" homecoming theme, Corona del Mar invited back former homecoming queens for the halftime ceremony Friday. Several showed up.
At least three of the recent queens on the stage had athletic ties. Volleyball standout Jordan Smith (class of 2005), cross country and track star Ann St. Geme (class of 2006) and aquatics standout Margot Money (class of 2010) were on hand to help crown this year's homecoming queen.
The 2011 queen is Katie Bethel.
Sage Hill used a trick play to open the game Friday. Taylor Petty, the team's top quarterback, lined up outside.
Backup quarterback Harrison Ray slinged the ball backward to him for a long lateral, allowing Petty to hit Thomas Fenner for a 38-yard gain. The drive eventually ended with a missed field-goal try.
Brinkley said his Sailors knew Huntington Beach might try onside kicks.
The Oilers tried two, right after their first two touchdowns, and they recovered each one.
"They kicked a little looper. They kicked a ground ball," Brinkley said. "That's how they kick off. We just didn't field the ball."
None of the onside kicks turned into points for the Oilers.
The Saddleback coaching staff includes Alec Kirshner, a quarterback and team captain for Estancia during the 2009 season. Kirshner threw for 628 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for three more TDs for the Eagles, who went 6-5 and reached the CIF playoffs.
Kirshner, who is a student at Orange Coast College, works with quarterbacks, receivers and the secondary for the Roadrunners.
— From staff reports