COSTA MESA — Coach Mike Bargas said he thought the effort was there for his Estancia High football team on Friday night.
The Eagles never let up, even when the score tilted heavily in their favor, and even though they were already locked into second place in the Orange Coast League before their regular-season finale against Calvary Chapel began.
They will take momentum from the 51-17 victory at Jim Scott Stadium and prepare for the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs, which begin next Friday.
Playoff pairings will be released on the CIF Southern Section website on Sunday.
"You know, it was a good win for us," Bargas said. "We're 7-3; it's a pretty good season for us. I'd like us to be a little more fine-tuned for the playoffs, but on offense we were running the ball and throwing the ball efficiently. We were a little deficient on defense, but they have a good quarterback and they have a good a passing game. We'll try to clean up for next week, but I thought our kids played hard. They never let down."
Estancia (7-3, 4-1 in league) was certainly able to run the ball, amassing 434 yards on the ground.
Over half of those were gained by senior running back Robert Murtha, the Newport-Mesa career rushing leader who passed the career 5,000-yard mark in the game.
Murtha had 228 yards rushing on just 18 carries, and scored three touchdowns for the second straight game.
Senior DeionTe Haywood ran for 140 yards on just three carries himself, and also scored two touchdowns.
On senior night, Haywood and Murtha were two of the seniors honored postgame in a ceremony on the field.
"It's all our line," Haywood said of the rushing totals. "Our line put in work tonight. We've got senior leadership on the line, and young guys who have stepped up and played well too. I love all of these guys. I couldn't do anything without them."
Estancia, tied for 10th in the Southern Division poll, broke out of the gates quickly against last-place Calvary Chapel (3-7, 0-5).
Estancia's first four plays from scrimmage produced two touchdowns, a 62-yard touchdown pass from Brad Wilson to Ben Beck and an 83-yard touchdown run by Murtha.
Calvary was able to move the ball in the first half, with senior quarterback Colin Kearon finding his favorite target, junior receiver Luke Kaeser (eight catches for 136 yards).
But turnovers hurt Calvary Chapel, which was the home school for the game.
Estancia recovered four fumbles in the contest, and Eric Molina intercepted a pass.
Estancia took a 38-3 lead into halftime after Haywood's first touchdown run, a 25-yard dart to the right side with 1:59 remaining before halftime.
But Bargas, whose squad also lost two fumbles, threw an interception and gave up back-to-back touchdown runs to Calvary's Chris Turner, said he wished his team would have played a bit cleaner of a game.
"I liked the effort," Bargas said. "Hopefully we can be a little bit sharper for next week. Week 10, I just expect us to be sharper, but Calvary Chapel's got some good players on their team. They gave us everything we wanted. Fortunately for us, in the first half we were scoring when we needed to score."
Haywood said his last regular-season game was "bittersweet," especially after the Eagles were unable to defend their back-to-back league titles. But now attention will turn to trying to make another extended CIF run.