1977 Varsity Team
The 1977 team played a season to remember. According to the El Vuelo yearbook, “In the second year of ‘The New Era’ of Estancia football, the Eagles turned the corner and produced a fine season. Marked by great upset wins over Edison, El Modena, and Foothill, and superb efforts in losses to Santa Ana Valley and Riverside Poly, the Eagles distinguished themselves as one of the top teams in Orange County. Known as the Cardiac Kids, the fighting Eagles roared into the CIF playoffs for the first time in seven years. Perfect execution, team unity, and great fourth quarter play were weekly trademarks of this outstanding team. Truly, a year to remember. Estancia football is on top to stay and the 1977 squad will be remembered as the team that set the pace.”
According to Estancia alumni Burt Sirota, “senior quarterback Dave Jeranko was the leader of the team, and he threw often to senior tight end Mike Camp. Running backs Kevin Hagan and Andy Dominquez led the ground attack. Kevin Sloan was a lineman who went on to play college ball. Jeranko went on to play at OCC and Idaho State. The defense had some hard hitters, including the late Earl Hewell and Tom Ness, who made the best hit I ever saw in any football game at any level. Sure it was after the whistle had been blown, and was technically a late hit, but the refs missed the call, and the opponent’s top receiver was carried off the field. Maybe not the best lesson for the kids to learn. Some other standouts from this team were Dave Larimer, Brett Aiken, junior Tony Camp, Steve Cuniff, Quan Nguyen, Craig Crandall, Mike Yocum, and Kevin Obymako.
Sirota adds that there is an interesting parallel from the 1977 team to the 2009 team. The coach of that squad was Jim Bratten, who was in his second season after coming over from Newport Harbor High.
The El Vuelo yearbook summarizes the 1977 team’s playoff game. “On the day of November 18th, Estancia High School made history. With two seconds left to play, the game was at a standstill. Up to this point, the game had been centered around the running of Estancia’s Hagen and Dominguez and Riverside Poly’s Larry Thomas. It was a picture perfect ending, an ending many Estancians will never forget. An 18-yard field goal won the game for Poly and drowned Estancia’s hopes of advancing to the next round.
“Even though the game was lost, the tradition of Estancia football is no more ‘wait till next year.’ Estancia is now a very much respected team of no big stars, but a team of unity right down to their cute little red sweaters. Much if not all, the credit must be given to Coach Bratten and his staff. He has drilled into them that they play as a team and not as individuals. Even though we lost, for the first time in a long time, we were there.”