The Estancia High football team is down to its third tailback. His name is Indiana Taylor. His hairdo makes him look taller than he really is.
Taylor likes to say he is 5-foot-8. His coach, Mike Bargas, isn't quite sure.
"With the Afro, maybe," says Bargas, adding that Taylor, unlike the rest of his teammates, can wear is hair long, just as long as he scores five touchdowns.
Taylor lived up to his end of the deal last week, finding the end zone five times in a must-win situation for the Eagles. Behind Taylor's big day, which included 24 rushes for 214 yards and four touchdowns and a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Estancia beat Godinez, 55-41, and earned its first Orange Coast League victory.
For any hope the Eagles have of making the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs for the fifth straight year, they needed to win at home. They called on Taylor to keep their postseason hopes alive.
In his debut as the starting running back, Taylor made the most of his chance.
Before the season, Bargas talked about possibly giving Taylor some work in the backfield. Taylor's lack of size prevented that from happening through the first six games of the year. Then injuries to Christian Laurent (ankle) and Tyler Chacon (collarbone) in the fifth and sixth games, respectively, changed Bargas' mind.
With Laurent and Chacon out, Bargas turned to a 145-pound wide receiver to carry the load.
"He's got something that we lack here … and that's speed," Bargas says of Taylor, who before last week had only rushed 16 times for 84 yards, coming in the seventh game of the season. "Once he gets around the corner … and gets out in the open field, he's hard to catch."
Taylor, a junior, showed his elusiveness against Godinez. Twenty-three seconds into the second quarter, he helped the Eagles tie the game at 7-7 with a 36-yard touchdown run around the right end.
The touchdown marked the first of five for Estancia in the second quarter. Taylor capped the first half with a 25-yard touchdown run with 69 seconds left.
Taylor was just getting started.
After watching Godinez return the opening kickoff of the second half 92 yards for a touchdown, Taylor almost matched it yard for yard. He returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Two teammates, Zack Shafer and Dalton O'Daly, sprung Taylor loose, giving the Eagles a 41-13 lead 29 seconds into the third quarter.
Taylor's longest touchdown run was a 72-yarder that ended his career-night and any shot of Godinez coming back. And to think the evening began with Taylor nervous.
"I didn't want to let anybody down," says Taylor, especially Laurent, whom he played with as a freshman at Edison before the two transferred to Estancia. "I was honestly looking forward to [starting at running back] because I didn't really like the wide receiver position. I just like having the ball and running around."
Taylor says his first carry began with him losing yards. That initial run, Taylor says, woke him up and the offensive line, left tackle Osvaldo Villafana, left guard Edwin Sanchez, center Dorian Navarrete, right guard Juan Lozada and right tackle Mark Velasquez, allowed him to have a breakthrough performance.
"Godinez is a massive football team," Bargas says. "But [Taylor is] all we had."
Bargas plans to start Taylor against Saddleback on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game is at Segerstrom High and the Eagles (3-5, 1-2 in league) face another must-win game.
Taylor says he's ready to fill in again, knowing Estancia's situation. To qualify for the playoffs, Estancia must win its final two league games and have Costa Mesa (5-3, 3-0) beat Calvary Chapel (7-1, 3-0) on Friday. If the Mustangs get past Calvary Chapel, they move into sole possession of first and Calvary Chapel drops to second.
Estancia then must knock off Calvary Chapel in the league finale on Nov. 8 to claim one of the league's three automatic playoff berths. Expect Estancia, which went into the week in fourth place in league, one game behind Laguna Beach, to get past winless Saddleback.
"We don't want to be that team that gives [Saddleback its first] victory," Bargas says.
If that happens, Taylor might have to cut his hair.
Born: Oct. 11, 1996
Hometown: Newport Beach
Weight: 145 pounds
Coach: Mike Bargas
Favorite food: Chow mein
Favorite movie: "Forrest Gump"
Favorite athletic moment: Returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown last week.
Week in review: Taylor rushed 24 times for 214 yards and four touchdowns and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown in Estancia's 55-41 win against Godinez in an Orange Coast League game at Jim Scott Stadium.