COSTA MESA — The mood was set from the opening play of the game when Estancia High's Tyler Thomas walloped the Ocean View kickoff returner, causing a fumble that fellow junior Ronnie Urquiza would recover on the Seahawks' 30-yard line.
There are a lot of juniors playing for the Eagles nowadays. The team is light on seniors, and one of the best, fullback/linebacker Jackson Letterman, didn't play Thursday night because of a knee injury.
But Estancia still showed that it could bounce back from a tough season-opening shutout loss.
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The Eagles did so with emphasis at Jim Scott Stadium, riding a big rushing night by another junior, Christian Laurent, for a 41-14 nonleague victory over Ocean View.
Coach Mike Bargas' team avoided its first 0-2 start in six years. Bargas said he was superstitious about getting the win.
"I wore a different shirt today to dinner," Bargas said. "I'll do anything I can. I'm not normally superstitious, but football night I am, absolutely ... I changed my dinner shirt, I did it all. Did some extra praying. I told the kids, 'We just want to feel good this week.'"
The Eagles (1-1) did not need some divine intervention, just some playmaking on both offense, defense and special teams to top the Seahawks (0-2).
After the game-opening fumble recovery, Laurent was in the end zone five plays later on a one-yard run. Most of his runs Thursday went considerably longer, as he finished with 32 carries for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The passing game also got going, as sophomore Connor Brown completed his first seven attempts of the game in the first half. They were short passes, but they kept the Eagles' drives moving.
Brown's touchdown pass was impressive, as he hooked up with junior Dalton O'Daly in the back of the end zone on fourth and two from the Ocean View five-yard line, giving Estancia a 14-0 lead on its second drive of the game.
The Eagles also scored on their third drive, as Thomas' five-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive.
"We're really green," Bargas said. "It shows sometimes, but today they played like they were a little bit older than their years. It's always nice to see that kind of stuff, especially on a Thursday night game, because then you don't have to eat that bitter pill [all weekend]. You come out with a win, and you can breathe for a few hours [on Friday]."
Defensively, the Eagles were swarming. The game-opening fumble recovery was one of three in the game; Thomas and senior Zack Shafer recovered the others.
It was little like Estancia's result in its opener, a 35-0 loss to Loara last week at Glover Stadium in Anaheim. Instead, it was more like last year's meeting with Ocean View, a 45-0 Estancia victory.
"It was fun," said Thomas, who always seemed to be around the ball from his linebacker spot. "It was good for us to win, after the loss last week ... [our defensive effort was] much better than last week's. Defense, we stepped it up, the D-line especially."
Thomas said that selfless discipline was the key to the Eagles' defensive improvement.
When it wasn't Christian Laurent hurting the Seahawks, it was his younger brother, freshman Dylan, on defense. Dylan Laurent intercepted an under-thrown ball and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, adding to what became a 35-7 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
From there, Estancia was able to pound the ball on the ground in the fourth quarter with sophomore Sam Cruz, who Bargas said is the team's third-string fullback. Cruz finished with 55 yards rushing of his own, scoring on a seven-yard run.
Bargas said he thinks Letterman's injury might be a meniscus, and his status for the Eagles' game at Irvine on Sept. 20 is not known.
"We lost our long-snapper, our team captain, our inside linebacker," Bargas said. "These guys stepped up, so we're really proud of the team."