Murtha breaking records

Estancia running back, who broke the Newport-Mesa career rushing record, is two TDs from breaking the 49-TD district record.

October 04, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Every time Robert Murtha scores a touchdown, he gets ready to take a blow to the head.

The guy who delivers it is not on the opposing team. He's not even wearing a helmet when he hits Murtha.

But every time Murtha finds the end zone, he seeks out the guy who will head-butt him once he reaches the Estancia High sideline.

That guy is his father, Robert Murtha Sr.

Father and son have head-butted each other 48 times in three years. After seeing his son record his 48th career touchdown on varsity last week, dad took his hat off and grabbed his son's facemask.

He always does those things after a Murtha score and then congratulates him with a head-butt. What follows are encouraging words, but this time dad broke some news.


"You got the record!" the father said after his son's 52-yard touchdown run.

His son didn't even realize he broke the Newport-Mesa career rushing record on that run. The 4,333-yard mark that stood 19 years went down midway through the second quarter on the road against Sonora.

The running back said he was just excited to play again and help the Eagles win again after a two-game skid. After what he went through a couple of weeks ago in a game, you would understand why.

He feared his senior season might be over. While on the turf in front of the home fans, an injured Murtha broke down.

A tackler rolled on top of his right ankle while going down. The problem was his leg bent awkwardly. At this point, running past Costa Mesa tailback Binh Tran's record was the last thing on his mind late in the third quarter against Irvine. Running again this year was.

"As soon as it happened, I heard a pop in my leg," Murtha said. "I was really scared.

"I was like, 'Oh, damn! Is this really happening right now? Did I just really break something?' As soon as it happened, I was just praying to God, 'Please don't let anything be broken.'"

As Murtha left the game, he cried. The pain didn't cause the tears, it was out of fear that his final year was going to end this way, him injured in the third game of the season.

Was he not going to be able lead the program to three straight league titles for the first time or its first CIF Southern Section title game?

The Eagles lost to Irvine, 20-18, that night, but they didn't lose their star player for the rest of the year. At first, Coach Mike Bargas believed it was a shin injury, only to find out Murtha sprained his ankle.

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