ESTANCIA

•The Eagles' star running back Robert Murtha graduated last year and is now at Orange Coast College. But Estancia still has a Murtha on the sidelines every week.

It is Robert's mom, Christine, who is the Estancia football trainer this year.

Bargas said the Eagles' former trainer, Kelsey Blackard, went off to college.

"We were scrambling to get a trainer, and [Murtha] is qualified, and she loves football," Bargas said. "She stepped up at the last minute, and she's awesome. She doesn't 'mother hen' the kids; she's very professional. She wants to be a part of the program. She does everything in a loving way, but not too motherly. She actually will send kids back on the practice field, which I appreciate. If a kid breaks a cuticle or something, it's 'Get back out there.'

"She's awesome. It's nice to have the Murthas still stay with the Estancia football family."

•Estancia High might be the underdog going into Friday night's Orange Coast League opener, the Battle for the Bell game at Jim Scott Stadium.

Coach Mike Bargas has led his team to victory in the contest against Costa Mesa for three years in a row. He said he sees his team as being able to contend in the Orange Coast League, despite being picked to finish fourth in the six-team league before the season began.

Estancia (2-3) returned just one combined starter this year on both sides of the ball. But sophomore quarterback Connor Brown made some impressive throws in Friday's 19-14 nonleague victory over Sonora, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to junior Dalton O'Daly in the first quarter. Brown threaded the needle, getting the ball to O'Daly just before the defensive back could get there.

Brown passed for a season-high 156 yards and the touchdown.

"We dropped a couple of balls, but we showed we can throw the ball and that's what we have to do," Bargas said. "We have to be balanced. Unfortunately, when you have a sophomore you make bad mistakes, but he made a lot of good [decisions] tonight."

•Bargas said the Bell game is "not the end-all game," but obviously his team would like to open league with a win against a rival.

"That's OK," Bargas said when told some observers have picked Costa Mesa to win the league. "I think you've got to respect Laguna Beach as the reigning league champion, and I think Godinez has a very good football team. Coach [Chris] Cox at Calvary has gotten them going, and I know Saddleback is struggling ... but anybody can beat anybody."

— Matt Szabo

NEWPORT HARBOR

•Newport Harbor High goes into Sunset League play without much momentum.

The Sailors' hopes to enter league with two straight wins were dashed last week, as they lost to Manhattan Mira Costa, 33-21, at Davidson Field.