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Eagles’ defense muffles Mesa

FOOTBALL: Estancia holds Mesa scoreless during second half for one of the Eagles’ best defensive performances.

November 03, 2007|By Soraya Nadia McDonald

NEWPORT BEACH — Estancia High seniors Sean Ulrich and Connor McKendry have never known a time when the bell didn’t belong to Estancia.

Ever since the two defensive ends were freshmen, they’ve always heard the bell clanging and crowd roaring after the annual cross-town rivalry game and known that they’d be the ones eating at Newport Rib Company afterward.

Why stop now?

“This is our biggest game by far,” said McKendry, who forced a fumble to give the Eagles (5-4, 2-0 in the Orange Coast League) their last possession of the game. “It’s the city championship, and it’s basically the league championship, because we’ll be league co-champions no matter what we do, even if we lose next week.”

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The Eagles, who now have a three-game win streak, have one more regular-season game against Laguna Beach. If they beat the Breakers, they would win the league title outright. Costa Mesa will play Calvary Chapel Thursday.

The 13 points the Eagles’ defense allowed Costa Mesa (1-8, 1-1) to score Friday night was one of its best outputs this season. Only Calvary Chapel scored fewer points against Estancia, when the Eagles walked away Monday having held Calvary to just one touchdown in a 10-3 win.

Estancia also held Bolsa Grande and La Quinta to 13 points in earlier meetings this season.

“From Coach [Jeff] Brinkley and the staff [at Newport Harbor], I’ve learned to be calm, but we’re always intense,” said Estancia coach Mike Bargas. “It doesn’t matter who we play. They could have very well beaten us and it’s a great match and we had great fan support on both sides. It is a big game, but now we’re going to get ready for Laguna Beach.”

Antwon Byrd found the Estancia end zone just 19 seconds into the matchup, when he ran 72 yards on a pitch from Costa Mesa quarterback Brian Waldron. He broke through a tackle attempt, and kept running down the left sideline for the score.

Byrd scored again right before halftime, on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Waldron. Estancia answered by blanking the Mustangs for the next two quarters.

“The first half, we gave up a few big plays, but our coach gave us a really inspirational speech at halftime that helped us do what we had to do,” McKendry said. “So, in the second half we came out focused. Except for a few minor fighting things, I think we played pretty darn good in the second half.”

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