June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Costa Mesa stays focused for win in first game at Saddleback’s new stadium

Costa Mesa running back Edward Franco runs past a contingent of Saddleback defenders in the second quarter on his way to the end zone for a touchdown. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Costa Mesa High School’s football team remained focused on the task at hand playing the first game in the new athletic stadium on campus Friday night at Saddleback High School.

The Mustangs dominated from the start and went on to defeat the host Roadrunners 42-6 in an Orange Coast League game.

An estimated 1,500 Saddleback fans packed their side of the new stadium, the home of the Roadrunners on homecoming.

The Roadrunners loss did not dampen their spirits as the fans cheered throughout the game and during an entertaining halftime show which included the band and a disc jockey playing music.

There were plenty of concessions and T-shirts were being sold for $5 to mark the opening.

“This is a beautiful stadium and I’m really happy for Saddleback,” said Costa Mesa Coach Gary Gonzalez. “This is going to help their program definitely, but we played really well tonight on all sides of the ball offense, defense and we ran the ball well.

“Our game plan was to run the ball well and it paid off and we felt we could control the clock and control the game if we established the run tonight.”

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

The Mustangs (2-4, 1-1) were led by Edward Franco, who had two touchdown runs of 16 yards and one for 4 yards and 115 yards rushing and Brett McDonough, who had a 14-yard TD run in the first quarter and capped the night with an 80-yard kickoff return for a score in the final quarter. McDonough had 121 yards rushing.

“We had senior running backs Brett McDonough and Eddie Franco who really carried the load for us and ran the ball very well and it doesn’t happen if our offensive line doesn’t play well,” the coach said. “Our offensive line played great, those five guys up front played fantastic and we couldn’t do it without them. They were the true MVPs of the game.”

Sophomore quarterback Andrew Waiss also had 17-yard TD pass to Brody Leonard.

Saddleback (0-6, 0-3) broke the shutout when quarterback Adam Castenada connected with Amos Alas on a 35-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter for the first Roadrunner score in the new stadium.

“Honestly, I think it was a good drive,” Amos said. “And I think the team really stepped up. We have a lot of mistakes we have to fix, but that touchdown felt really nice. I was celebrating with the team and we were just enjoying ourselves.

“It felt really nice just being out there with the team having fun especially with the crowd out here at the stadium. The coaching staff kept our heads up; the coaching staff really influences us in a good way. They bring our heads up whenever we’re down. It plays a big part in us having that much energy.”

Castenada passed for 99 yards but had two interceptions.

“Four years in the program, it feels great, playing my last year here,” the quarterback said before the game when talking about the stadium. “We’re just trying to get as many wins as we can here and make great memories with my team. I’m just happy they made a stadium for us and the effort they put into it. We’re just excited to play here today.”

Saddleback Coach Paige Nobles added:

“I would hope it will attract some more of the incoming guys coming in from our feeder schools and attract some of the players who decided not to play this year for whatever reason who are underclassmen. We got to do something to build this program.”

Saddleback Principal Edward Bustamante was pleased with how the evening went.

“I think it’s beyond words, we talk about fellow alumni going way back,” he said before the game. “They haven’t really had a place to play on campus. We always went everywhere else. Everyone has been graceful to help us but it’s very nice to have something on campus for our own community.

“So now people can actually walk and attend and really have that family, community. There is school and academics but the social piece is important when we come together on Friday night as a community and root and cheer for each other and enjoy our company.”

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—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com