Costa Mesa High football Coach Jerry Howell was less than enamored with his team's efforts in its scrimmage against Orange High last week, and he didn't know what to expect at Thursday's season opener against Saddleback. What he got was a big offensive night as the Mustangs hammered the Roadrunners, 48-23, at Santa Ana Stadium.
Nick Cabico, who returned to Costa Mesa after a year at Mater Dei, ran back the opening kickoff 62 yards to set up the first Mustang score.
Cabico rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns, caught five passes for 74 yards and another score, had 83 return yards and broke up a potential Saddleback TD pass in the first quarter, as well as two others later in the game.
Cabico showed some flashy moves in the second period, when he juked one Saddleback defender to his knees, then escaped another along the sideline on a 26-yard touchdown reception that gave Costa Mesa a 17-0 lead. Later in the period, he faked a Roadrunner defender at the line of scrimmage and went 28 yards to set up a six-yard touchdown run by Alvin Nguyen.
The Mustangs enjoyed a 478-336 advantage in total yardage, and Saddleback helped their cause by turning the ball over on two of its first four possessions and losing the ball on downs in Costa Mesa territory on the other two.
Ramon Saavedra completed 19 of 41 passes for 211 yards for Saddleback. The Roadrunners tried to hang on, but a pair of two-play touchdown drives by Costa Mesa late in the first half gave the visitors a 31-7 lead that put the game away.