Zach Cornwell played at Saddleback College this past season. He graduated from Newport Harbor in 2013.

Former Newport Harbor player Cornwell dies


Former Newport Harbor High and Saddleback College football player Zach Cornwell, 20, died Saturday, Saddleback College officials announced.

Cornwell played last season at Saddleback before transferring to Orange Coast. Saddleback coach Mark McElroy said Cornwell “had some kidney problems last Sunday, so he went to (Children's Hospital of Orange County) and battled all week, but lost the battle (Saturday) morning.”

Cornwell was a 2013 Newport Harbor graduate, earning first-team All-Sunset League and third-team All-County honors his senior season.

He played his first two high school seasons at JSerra before transferring to Newport Harbor.

“It’s a shame. He was a good kid,” said Sailors coach Jeff Brinkley.

Cornwell’s father, Fred, played at USC and was drafted in the third round of the 1984 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys as a tight end.

Orange Coast College football coach Kevin Emerson said Cornwell had been working with the team since January. He held a team meeting Monday and informed his team of Cornwell’s death.

“He was one of the hardest workers on the team,” Emerson said. “This took us all by surprise. He was a great young man to be around and touched our team.”

Emerson said Cornwell would have definitely started on the team’s offensive line this fall.

“He was one of the best offensive lineman I’ve coached in recent years. He was very athletic for that big of a man.”

At Saddleback, Cornwell redshirted his freshman year, but started for the Gauchos at right guard last season.

“He was a gentle giant; one of the most-liked guys on the team,” said McElroy. “He was never late and gave 100 percent on the field and the weight room. He was the perfect student athlete.”

Emerson said a service for Cornwell will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church (2046 Mar Vista Dr.) in Newport Beach.

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