As you can tell this season, I haven't done so well picking high school football games.
This week I went winless. For the year, I'm 15-10.
There are at least five more weeks left in the season. The biggest game in town next week is the Battle for the Bell.
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The game between rivals Costa Mesa and Estancia is on Friday at Jim Scott Stadium at 7 p.m. The Mustangs are the home team this year.
While Estancia holds a 27-18-1 edge in the series, I believe Costa Mesa will claim the 47th edition of the game. Look for the Mustangs to end a three-year losing streak to the Eagles.
Both teams enter the Orange Coast League opener with identical 2-3 records, but Costa Mesa's nonleague schedule has been more impressive.
The Mustangs have played Los Amigos (4-1) and Katella (4-1), teams ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll, and they lost by a combined 11 points. They kept the games close despite not having two of their top players, Oronde Crenshaw (foot) and Quinton Bell (hip).
With Crenshaw, a tailback and middle linebacker, and Bell, an outside linebacker and wide receiver, Costa Mesa beats Los Amigos and Katella.
The two seniors rested during the Mustangs' bye week and Coach Wally Grant expects them to play against Estancia. Crenshaw and Bell will be the difference in bringing the Bell trophy back to Costa Mesa's campus.
•Estancia keeps beating Costa Mesa in girls' volleyball.
The rivals opened Orange Coast League play on Thursday and the Eagles swept, 25-23, 25-16, 25-19, giving them their 19th straight victory against the Mustangs.
The two coaches, Estancia's Paul Muñoz and Costa Mesa's Todd Hanson, know each other well. Hanson, in his first season with the Mustangs, coached Muñoz in high school, at Mater Dei.
"I had him for two years before I moved on [to coach at] Fountain Valley," said Hanson, who was an assistant coach at Mater Dei, where Muñoz graduated in 2001. "[He] didn't jump real well, but [he was] one of the best passers and best defenders that I have seen on the high school level. He was phenomenal defensively."
•Corona del Mar's Hayley Hodson is in Mexico.
The junior isn't on vacation. She's playing for the U.S. team at the FIVB Volleyball Women's Under-23 World Championships. The tournament got underway on Saturday and it ends on Oct. 12.
Hodson is one of 12 players on the U.S. team, and one of four high school players.
CdM girls' volleyball coach Steve Astor said Hodson, his star outside hitter, will be gone until the third week of the month. Hodson expects to miss at least three Pacific Coast League matches and the Torrey Pines High California Challenge tournament in San Diego on Oct. 11-12.
"It's going to be a totally positive challenge," Astor said of CdM (8-2) playing without Hodson. "We've just got to keep playing better volleyball."
•This is going to be a long season for the Newport Harbor girls' volleyball team.
The Sailors dropped their fifth straight match, as host Huntington Beach rallied to win the Sunset League opener, 24-26, 25-27, 25-17, 25-21, 15-12, on Thursday.
The five-set setback is Newport Harbor's second in a row. The Sailors lost the Battle of the Bay rivalry match against CdM in five on Sept. 28.
The team only has two seniors. The inexperience has resulted in a 3-13 record, the worst start in legendary coach Dan Glenn's 28 years with the Sailors.
This might be the first year the Newport Harbor girls fail to qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs under Glenn. The last time the Sailors did not reach the postseason was in 1981.
Not making the playoffs is unimaginable for a coach like Glenn. Remember, he has averaged a girls' section title win every four years while at Newport Harbor. He's led the program to seven section crowns and four runner-up finishes.