Written By: Chris Bibona
As game time approached, the Newport Harbor’s student section could be seen from a mile away as it formed a wall of vibrant pink. That’s because Friday’s game was a pink-out in honor of cancer awareness, and, as always, the Sailor students did not disappoint in their support. Likewise, on the field, the expectations were high for Tarball as they entered this conference matchup with a perfect 7-0 record. The Los Alamitos Griffins came into town looking to change that, sporting a strong record of 8-2-1 at the start of the game. Both teams had statements to make, but one team was going to leave the night with their first league loss, no matter the impressive past they flaunted.
The Griffins waited no time to kickstart their offense, as junior running back Jaiden Mitchell split past the Harbor defense and scored a 62-yard touchdown, giving his team an early 7-0 lead. Los Alamitos then scored another touchdown, this time by wide receiver Noah Kelly, giving the visitors a commanding lead going into the second quarter.
Starting off the second quarter, the Sailors orchestrated a strong drive which, unfortunately, fell short. Kicker Jack Starnes had to kick a chip-shot field goal to give Newport their first points of the game, but momentum belonged to the Griffins from that point forward. Sophomore running back Josiah Murray got in on the onslaught, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns before the end of the half.
Down 27-3, the Sailors showed no sign of easing up, determined to put in their best efforts. Harbor defense scooped up a fumble to open up the second half of play. Unfortunately for them, the offensive side would not be able to capitalize, and Quarterback Nick Kim began to show some weakness, as he was picked off twice in this game altogether. A few garbage-time touchdowns would extend Los Al’s lead to 44-3, leaving the Sailors stranded in the middle of the divisional standings, sitting at 2-1.
Looking forward, Newport has yet to face their toughest opponent this season: division three powerhouse and archrival Corona Del Mar. The two schools will play in “The Battle of the Bay” game next Friday, the 25th. If the Sailors want any chance of bringing the bell back to the west side of the bay, they are going to have to fix some gaping holes in their secondary defense as well as offensive rhythm. This might possibly be the most promising Harbor football squad since the last time they won the rival game in 2012. Hopes are high for Newport Harbor in what should be a gritty battle of toughness versus talent.