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Eagles' Murtha does whatever it takes

Daily Pilot High School Football Player of the Week

Estancia High junior running back was the workhorse with 42 carries in the Eagles' 35-14 win at Laguna Beach.

October 20, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Steve Georges /…)

Robert Murtha said he has the words "Whatever it takes" tattooed on his upper right arm. You don't need to be able to read in Filipino to understand that Murtha pours his heart and soul on the football field for Estancia High.

The junior is a workhorse. Sure, he uses his legs to run with the ball, his arms to break through tackles during games.

After practice, Coach Mike Bargas appreciates what Murtha's legs and arms do.

"Robert is one of the guys at the end of practice that … packs away all the equipment," Bargas said. "When they're willing to be the custodian of the program, it means a lot to me. We're looking for the complete package, not the fact that he's our running back, but the fact that he's willing to stay and pick up trash.

"You just can't be the guy that shows up Friday night and kicks butt."

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The star on a team isn't the player you see breaking down bags. Murtha does all the dirty work and never complains.

When the lights on game day are on, you see Murtha's workmanlike ethic in his running style. He's not afraid to run in between the tackles and run over would-be tacklers.

Forty-two times, Murtha carried the ball against Laguna Beach last week. Bargas said he didn't know his 5-foot-9, 180-pound tailback ran so much.

"You don't count [carries] like you do [pitches] in baseball," Bargas said. "It just happened to work out [that way]. He got banged up. His abdominal injury kicked in a little bit there, but he's a competitor. He's one of those guys that doesn't ever want to leave the football field, which is good. You want a guy that you got to literally kick off the football field."

When it was time for Murtha to exit the game at Laguna Beach, he pounded the Breakers for 269 yards and three touchdowns.

The performance turned out to be Murtha's best of the year. The effort came at a good time, as the Eagles opened their Orange Coast League title defense with a 35-14 win.

With Estancia's best receiving threat, Ben Beck, out with a foot injury, Laguna Beach stacked the box, trying to slow down Murtha. What happened is Estancia's offensive line had its way with the smaller Breakers.

"They were just bulldozing," said Murtha, giving credit to left tackle Zach Bateman, left guard Givraan Gutierrez, center Alejandro Lopez, right guard Adahir Aguilera, right tackle Alvaro Alejandre and fullback Deionte Haywood for opening up holes.

Murtha shot right through them, handing the Breakers their first loss and outshining their standout tailback.

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