Two-Minute Drill: Sailors jump back in Sunset League contention

NEWPORT HARBOR

•Newport Harbor High finds itself back atop the Sunset League.

The Sailors closed out their final regular-season home game with a 42-25 victory against Fountain Valley last week, moving Newport Harbor into a four-way tie for first place in the Sunset League.

With two games left, the Sailors share first place with defending league champion Edison, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos. The four teams are 2-1 in league. Out of the four, Newport Harbor has the easiest schedule the rest of the way.

The Sailors, who are 4-4 overall, face Marina on Friday at Huntington Beach High at 7 p.m. They play at Huntington Beach the following week.

Marina (1-7, 0-3 in league) last won a league contest nine years ago. The Vikings have dropped 44 straight league games.

Huntington Beach (4-4, 1-2) picked up its first league win this year with a 50-12 drubbing of Marina last week.

Edison, which is 5-3 overall, goes up against rival Fountain Valley (6-2 overall) this Friday at Orange Coast College at 7 p.m., before closing out league against Marina at Westminster High on Nov. 8.

Los Alamitos, which is 7-1 overall, plays host to Huntington Beach at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach on Friday at 7 p.m. The Griffins' Sunset League finale is against Fountain Valley at Veterans Stadium on Nov. 8.

The top three teams in league earn automatic playoff berths. Last year, four teams advanced to the postseason, with Los Alamitos receiving an at-large entry.

The Sunset League should receive another at-large entry this year, as Los Alamitos (No. 3), Edison (No. 4), Newport Harbor (No. 7) and Fountain Valley (No. 9) are each ranked in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll.

The Sailors finished second in league last year at 4-1, behind Edison (5-0) and ahead of Huntington Beach (3-2). Los Alamitos (2-3) was fourth.

•The last time Newport Harbor won the Sunset League title was five years ago, but it missed the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.

Five teams split the league crown in 2008, but the Sailors lost out on the postseason due to a random tiebreaker process determining the league's three playoff teams. Teams were picked out of a wooden bucket and Esperanza, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos received the playoff berths.

•The Sailors defeated Fountain Valley for the fourth straight year.

Barons came into the recent matchup as the league's lone unbeaten team and on their best start in four years.

— David Carrillo Peñaloza

COSTA MESA

•Costa Mesa High has a shot to claim its second undefeated Orange Coast League title in five years.

The Mustangs kept themselves in position after they routed host Saddleback, 54-12, at Segerstrom High last week. Costa Mesa improved to 3-0 in league and clinched a berth into the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

The last two league contests are expected to be the Mustangs' toughest, as they play host to Calvary Chapel (7-1, 3-0 in league) at Jim Scott Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a road trip to defending league champion Laguna Beach (5-3, 2-1) on Nov. 8.

Costa Mesa and Calvary Chapel share first place in league. The Mustangs, who have won four in a row are 5-3 overall, meet a hot Calvary Chapel team that is ranked sixth in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll. The Eagles have ripped off six straights wins, the closest was last week's 62-56 overtime triumph against Laguna Beach at Jim Scott Stadium.

Calvary Chapel plays its home games at Jim Scott Stadium, which is also home to Costa Mesa and Estancia.

"We're preparing [for a shootout]," Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant said. "They're putting up a ton of points, and, you know, we didn't look real spectacular … on defense. We got some things to work on and clean up."

•Costa Mesa tailback Oronde Crenshaw continues to tear up defenses.

The senior rushed 21 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns, giving him his third straight 200-yard performance.

Crenshaw has rushed for 1,190 yards and 14 touchdowns on 141 carries this season. His yards and touchdowns lead Newport-Mesa and his yards rank fifth in Orange County and his touchdowns are tied for fifth in the county.

"He's still missing that step. I mean, he's close," Grant said of Crenshaw, who missed two games with nagging right foot injuries. "Each week, it's just fun to watch him get closer and closer to the kid I know. He's extremely close. His ankle is fine. It's just that we're just trying to get the strength back in it, but the ankle is healed, everything is healed. I'm not shy about giving him his carries."

•The Mustangs are back in the playoffs after they missed the postseason last year.

If they lose their final two league games and rival Estancia wins out, both teams would be 3-2 in league, but the Mustangs hold the head-to-head edge. Costa Mesa opened league play with a 31-18 victory against Estancia on Oct. 11.

— David Carrillo Peñaloza

CORONA DEL MAR

•CdM's spread offense is fun to watch, but the real story on the Sea Kings' dominance this season may just be its defense.

The Sea Kings (8-0, 3-0 in league) have outscored their three Pacific Coast League opponents, 85-10. On the season, they have scored 256 points while allowing just 73.

University got into the red zone just one time in Friday night's 35-3 CdM win. The drive was keyed by a 54-yard pass to tight end Andrew Montoya, the only big play the Sea Kings gave up all night.

The Trojans got a field goal out of the drive, but it was their only points of the night. They had just two first downs in the first half, one on the pass to Montoya and one on a successful fake punt. For the game, the last-place Trojans had just five first downs.

"They've been playing real well all year long," Coach Scott Meyer said. "We've been real happy with the defense. [Injured senior middle linebacker Alex Moore] is still around, and still a leader and captain of the defense. But Hoyt [Crance] moving to the inside spot has done a real good job, and his brother Hugh on the outside and Robby Hoffman. Really, our whole front seven is really good and our [defensive backs] are solid. They've just all picked up their game a little bit with the loss of Alex."

•With the game comfortably in hand, Meyer was able to insert his backup quarterback, sophomore Peter Bush, into the game for the Sea Kings' final drive in the fourth quarter.

Bush was impressive. Successfully running the option, he led CdM on an 11-play, 90-yard drive. It culminated on Bush's one-yard touchdown keeper with 3:30 left in the game, which pushed CdM's lead to 35-3.

On the one drive alone, Bush carried the ball seven times for 81 yards, including plays of 32 and 22 yards. He was the Sea Kings' leading rusher in the game.

•For the fourth straight week, Corona del Mar remains the No. 1-ranked team in the CalHiSports.com CIF State Bowl Game Division III South Rankings.

The rest of the top five includes Tulare Mission Oak (8-0), Agoura Hills Oak Park (8-1), Monrovia (7-1) and Garden Grove (8-0)

Garden Grove, which CdM defeated in last year's CIF Southern Section Southern Division title game, is ranked No. 2 behind the Sea Kings in the Southern Division.

•Friday's game was delayed for several minutes just before it started, as a University band member collapsed near the side of the field after the national anthem.

CdM ran up to kickoff the ball, stopping just short as the referee indicated the game would stop. After the band member was helped off the field, the game began.

The Sea Kings did not seem to let the delay faze them. They scored on their first two possessions, on a 35-yard run by senior quarterback Luke Napolitano and a 16-yard run by junior tailback Cole Martin.

— Matt Szabo

ESTANCIA

•Count Estancia High football coach Mike Bargas among those surprised by the breakthrough performance of junior third-string running back Indiana Taylor on Friday.

The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Taylor, filling in for injured junior Christian Laurent, amassed 214 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 24 attempts, and also returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to help the Eagles earn a 51-44 Orange Coast League win over visiting Godinez.

"We knew he was quick and we knew he had some toughness," Bargas said of Taylor, who entered the game with 84 rushing yards on 16 carries in the first seven games. "But it all came together that [Godinez] game. He really surprised some people, even us."

•Bargas said he was also surprised by his team's scoring output, its biggest in 31 games, since it defeated Bolsa Grande, 56-0, in the 2011 season opener.

"To be honest, I didn't think we had that many points in us," Bargas said, "especially with our third-string running back."

Outside of a 41-14 defeat of Ocean View in the second game, Estancia had totaled just 63 points in its other six games, coming into Friday.

Bargas was even more perplexed by the fact that Estancia scored 34 points in a span of 10 minutes, 38 seconds in the second quarter.

Including Taylor's 90-yard kickoff return on the Eagles' initial second-half possession, Estancia scored 41 points while running just 20 offensive plays.

"I think there was some divine intervention with us scoring and creating turnovers that put us in position to make some things happen," Bargas said.

•Included in the second-quarter scoring blitz was a 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown by freshman cornerback Dylan Laurent, who appeared to some observers, to have one knee down when he collected the fumble.

"It could have gone either way," Bargas, after reviewing the play on video, said of whether Laurent should have been ruled down or not. "But Dylan did a smart thing by scooping it up and running. He didn't act like he was down."

Estancia also recovered a pooch kickoff and a muffed punt reception on the Eagles' only punt of the night.

Senior noseguard Diego Herrera, listed at 5-7, 180 pounds, also recovered a fumble early in the third quarter to go with his two quarterback sacks.

— Barry Faulkner

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