A different kind of football awards banquet

When Estancia High Assistant Principal Dr. David Martinez quoted LL Cool J during his welcoming speech I knew I was in for something different at the Eagles football brunch Saturday morning.

"When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on."

— LL Cool J

Adversity usually comes at some point during a high school football season. It wasn't any different for Estancia. For senior Ronnie Urquiza, the season, unfortunately, ended with adversity.

At the football awards brunch, each Estancia senior spoke about their time with the Eagles football program. Some talked about memories or their favorite coach on the staff.

Urquiza spoke last and talked about his adversity. It was a poignant moment that went beyond the lessons learned on the football field.

He talked about the meaningful impact Coach Mike Bargas and his staff had on his life and when times were the most challenging during the football season, how family – his brothers – helped him overcome frustration.

That frustration and depression stemmed from a concussion Urquiza suffered that caused him to miss what would be the Eagles' final game of the season.

"It hurt because I wanted to be on the field with my brothers," Urquiza said.

However, Urquiza explained that Bargas told the team captain that, "it's OK." It had already been a great season. And that it was.

The Eagles captured the Orange Coast League championship with a 5-0 record. They also won the Battle for the Bell.

Urquiza earned All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division honors and was also a Dream Team and first-team All-Orange Coast League pick.

He wanted so badly to play in the game against Santiago, which won the playoff game, 13-9.

You could hear it in his voice and see the yearning in his emotions as he talked about it during the brunch.

There weren't too many dry eyes at the Costa Mesa Country Club dining hall while Urquiza talked about his love for the game and the love for his coach, Bargas.

They shared a hug amid a round of applause. It was a fitting way to end the season.

Among the awards Urquiza earned, he was presented with the Brian "Bubba" Kapko Award, named after a former standout player who died in a car crash in 2005 after he had graduated from Estancia.

Rick Kapko, Bubba's father and a program booster, attended the event to present Urquiza the award.

When the event ended players and coaches smiled for the camera. They hugged. Adversity wasn't present at this time.

However, the playoff loss proved to be a reminder of how quickly a season can end. It just might also be used as a motivation for next season.