The Estancia football squad of 1968 will never be hailed as one of the greatest, or even mentioned in the upper half of “best” football squads to come out of the west side. It was early in the school’s football history, as the seniors on the team were part of the first four-year graduating class at Estancia. Our record was a disastrous 2-7 and we went 0-5 in the Irvine League, dropping our last six games. However, a couple of special things happened.
The ?68 team had an odd make up — split almost evenly between seniors and sophomores with only a handful of juniors, most of who did not play regularly. But the sophomores did play and excelled. One of the sophomores on the team was Curt Thomas, who started as quarterback, alternating with junior Paul Joyce. Thomas went on to play at OCC and Redlands University. It was these same sophomores who went on two years later to a 9-2 record and Estancia’s first entrance into CIF, losing in the 3A quarterfinals to Bonita Vista 13-12 in a driving rainstorm at OCC.
There also was one magical Friday night on the first weekend in October 1968. In a game against Pacifica High School, junior tailback Dave Johnson ran for over 200 yards, setting a new Orange County rushing record that stood for 12 years. We beat Pacifica that night 33-12 at Davidson Field. For the next 12 years, on the first weekend of October, the OC Register and the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, as it was called then, ran a story about the ?68 the game. I do not believe another Eagle squad, or any other Newport-Mesa team for that matter, ever received as much press for one game. How ironic for a team with a 2-7 record. For the sophomores on the team, it was the beginning of a new era, and for the seniors, it was one magical night, in what turned out to be a disappointing season.
(submitted by Michael Newtson, Class of 1969)