Costa Mesa, which has seen its top two quarterbacks and a
returning all-league tailback go down with injuries, enters the
league opener 0-4. The Mustangs have lost six straight, including an
18-13 setback to Estancia in the regular-season finale last fall.
Estancia, coming off a bye week, is 0-3. The Eagles' struggles
include minus-22 net yards rushing this season.
"[The Eagles] have been going through the same pains we have,"
Costa Mesa Coach Jay Johnson said. "This is going to be a good one to
see who can get out of the cellar."
Both coaches, each in their first season at their respective
schools, believe the combination of the rivalry game and the opening
of league play provide their players a welcome clean slate.
"This almost starts a new season," Barnes said. "We've had our
preseason and now we're going to the real season. The 0-3 is wiped
out and our goal still is to win the league championship."
The Mustangs' fortunes would be bolstered by the possible return
of senior quarterback Ryan French, who suffered a shoulder separation
in the season opener.
French has missed the last three games, prompting former receiver
Tony Krikorian, a senior, to assume the quarterbacking role in
Johnson's spread offense.
Johnson said French will visit the doctor today in hopes of being
cleared to play. Either way, Johnson said, French will not start.
But Krikorian, who leads the Mustangs in rushing and passing yards
(116 and 77, respectively) and has run for two touchdowns and thrown
for another, is out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain sustained
in Friday's 31-9 loss at Laguna Beach.
Junior Cody Waldron is expected to start at quarterback and
Johnson said he will employ a two-back spread with just three
receivers, a change from the four-receiver sets he has used.
The quarterback position has been the strength of the Estancia
offense, as senior Ryan Watson and his favorite target, junior
receiver Matt Redding, have been consistently productive.
Watson has thrown for 362 yards and two TDs, completing 30 of 54
with only one interception.
Redding has 11 receptions for 199 yards and one TD.