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Eagles benefitting from gearing up early

September 02, 1999

Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA - Like most of his colleagues, Estancia High football

coach Dave Perkins applauds the CIF Southern Section's decision to add a

preseason scrimmage for the first time since 1979.

But, unlike other programs around the section, Perkins has already seen

his personnel compete in full gear under game-like conditions. So,

Friday's scrimmage against Orange will be more about execution than

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evaluation.

"We answered a lot of (personnel) questions in Fresno," Perkins said of

the Eagles' five-day full-contact camp in June at Fresno State

University.

"Typically, coaches have a lot of questions about their players during

the spring and summer and it really isn't until you see them compete

against guys in that first game, until those questions are answered.

"Sometimes those inevitable mistakes can end up costing you big-time, but

we already made those mistakes in Fresno. We already have an idea about

our young kids and we know how much our returners improved. I know every

coach in Southern California is happy to be allowed a scrimmage, but for

us it's just a bonus."

Another bonus is the Eagles' wealth of experienced returners on both

sides of the ball, though, in some cases, it was earned prematurely, due

to injuries and illness to upperclassmen last fall.

The Eagles' 22-position starting lineup included, at various times last

season, 16 first-year players. Eight of those were sophomores.

And, while Estancia rooters should recognize the names and faces of this

year's players, an especially generous allotment of local viewing

opportunities (seven games at either Orange Coast College or Newport

Harbor High) could help them learn their favorite Eagle's every on-field

move.

Beginning in Week 4, Estancia will play five consecutive weeks at OCC,

covering the first three Pacific Coast League.

"We worked hard to get as many games there as we could, because I think

our kids feel like (Newport Harbor's Davidson Field) is more of a home

stadium for Newport and Corona del Mar," Perkins said.

Regardless of where you catch them, here's a position-by-position

breakdown of those players you're most likely to see:

Quarterback: Junior Kenny Valbuena threw for 1,154 yards and eight

touchdowns in eight starts as a sophomore, but he spent spring, summer,

and the first two days of fall drills, at Fountain Valley High, while

junior Jeremy Valdes was establishing himself in the Eagles' wing T

offense.

Perkins admires Valdes' leadership skills, as well as his mobility, but

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