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Newport Harbor has something big to celebrate
NEWPORT BEACH - Happy 60th birthday, Jeff Brinkley.
The longtime Newport Harbor coach celebrated in slippery style Friday on his home field as two of his players doused the unsuspecting coach with a cooler.
It came just seconds before the No. 16 Sailors completed a 28-7 victory against No. 8 San Clemente at Newport Harbor High.
"I don't mind. It feels pretty good, actually," Brinkley said. "It was my birthday. I didn't want those guys (San Clemente) to think we were doing anything like it was bigger than it was. The kids thought that'd be great."
Sailors senior tailback Tala Teaupa certainly was. Football coaches and players alike love spitting out the cliché about how they are trying to get better every week. But how else can you describe the play of Teaupa, who finished with 198 yards of total offense and two touchdowns?
He broke a scoreless tie late in the first half when he took a screen pass 63 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. In the third quarter, he dodged a few defenders before reaching daylight on a 48-yard score.
"We've hung our hat on our tailbacks throughout the years," Brinkley said. "He continues to be another one in a long line of good runners.
Teaupa rushed for 59 yards in the Sailors' season opener against Trabuco Hills, 164 yards and a touchdown against Loyola of Los Angeles, and 237 yards and two touchdowns against Corona del Mar.
On Friday, Teaupa also doubled as a linebacker yet was able to wear down the Tritons defense with his 20 carries. He ran behind starting offensive linemen Ramsey Hufford, TJ Tarazevits, Emmanuel Jogwe, Joseph Zavala, and Zach Cornwell, as well as tight end Alex De Soto and fullback Marty Taylor.
"You got give our offensive line a lot of credit," Brinkley said. "They've really improved."
Sailors sophomore quarterback Cole Norris went 8 of 12 for 126 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in his second varsity start.
Newport Harbor (2-2) plays host to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach next week. Before the Tritons' touchdown drive in the waning minutes, the Sailors allowed just one first down in the second half, and that was earned via penalty.
San Clemente (4-1) was without starting quarterback Sean Donnelly, who suffered a mild strain to his throwing shoulder in last week's victory against La Costa Canyon. With backup Sam Darnold also sidelined with an injury, third-string sophomore Loren Applegate got the start.
"Loren Applegate played his heart out," Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said. "He did the best he could. Offensively, we couldn't move the ball. We couldn't get any momentum running or passing."
Applegate completed 14-of-23 passes for 138 yards with an interception. Ortiz said Donnelly's status for next week's showdown with Edison remains uncertain.
"Sean is day to day," Ortiz said. "We're going to re-evaluate him on Monday and hopefully he'll be good to go next week."