When Kevin Pearson became Los Angeles Cathedral High’s football coach in 1995, one of the first coaches he sought out for help was Newport Harbor’s Jeff Brinkley. Pearson visited Brinkley a couple of times during the spring, watched how he ran practices, ran his program.
The Sailors were one of the top schools around back then. Times have changed since Pearson last came to Newport Harbor in the 1990s, when the Sailors reached the CIF Southern Section final four times that decade. He saw how far Newport Harbor has fallen up close Thursday night.
The Sailors are off to their first 0-5 start in 36 years.
Pearson’s Phantoms handed the host Sailors their latest setback, routing them 48-10 at Davidson Field.
Two youngsters from Cathedral — sophomore quarterback Bryce Young and freshman wide receiver Josiah Zamora — put on a show. Young completed 26 of 35 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception, and Zamora finished with nine receptions for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Young, who has an offer from USC and six other Pac-12 Conference schools, was elusive in and out of the pocket. Every time he targeted Zamora in the first half, the play resulted in a touchdown.
The two hooked up three times for touchdowns, on 58-, 25- and 80-yard pass plays, helping Cathedral take a 21-10 lead. Zamora was always open and flying past the secondary.
Cathedral (4-1) bounced back from its 17-7 loss to rival Los Angeles Loyola on Sept. 15. Having a bye week and facing a struggling Newport Harbor team allowed the Phantoms to go into their Angelus League opener on the road with Studio City Harvard-Westlake next week with some momentum.
Newport Harbor starts Sunset League play next week at home against Los Alamitos, and Brinkley is hoping the Sailors can turn things around. They might be without their top two running backs, as Jaylen Andrews left the game with an undisclosed injury after four plays from scrimmage, then Colin Gregg exited with an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like we competed probably better tonight than we have in recent weeks,” Brinkley said. “If we would’ve played this way last week [at Hacienda Heights Los Altos], I think we would’ve won the game going away, but [we lost 21-13]. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Things looked promising for the Sailors on the game’s opening drive.
They moved the chains on three straight plays, on Sam Barela’s 13- and 18-yard passes and on his 13-yard run. The junior also kept the drive alive on fourth-and-one, completing a 13-yard pass to Will Harvey. The play moved Newport Harbor inside the opponent’s 15-yard line, but it came away with zero points, missing a 35-yard field goal try.
The Phantoms would go on to provide the only points in the first quarter. The Young-to-Zamora connection produced all of Cathedral’s first-half points.
Young first hit Zamora near the 40-yard line, toward the Phantoms’ sideline, and Zamora did the rest. He ran by the defensive back for a 58-yard touchdown midway through the opening quarter.
Newport Harbor appeared as though it would answer. The offense got near Cathedral’s 10-yard line, but Neko Scott picked off Barela’s pass in the end zone. The Sailors were denied for the second time in as many drives.
They eventually cut the deficit in half 13 seconds into the second quarter. Ethan Schroeder converted a 36-yard field goal, making it a 6-3 game.
Three minutes later, Cathedral went to Zamora again, and he delivered another score. Young threw a 25-yard pass to Zamora in the end zone. Young’s pass to Ali Pringle on the two-point conversion try made it 14-3 Cathedral.
Raphael Cruz returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards, setting up Newport Harbor on Cathedral’s 45-yard line. Another big play, Gregg’s 43-yard run left the offense on the two. After losing three yards on first-and-goal, Barela found Cruz over the middle for a five-yard touchdown pass.
The Sailors got within 14-10, and in a hurry, the Phantoms responded. Fifteen seconds after Newport Harbor’s only touchdown, Young and Zamora recorded their third touchdown. Zamora was wide open over the middle, and Young easily saw him. Zamora caught the pass and cut to his left, outrunning the last defender and beating him to the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
The Phantoms, a Division 2 program, scored the game’s final 34 points. The last six came on defensive back Jordan Washington’s 28-yard interception return for a touchdown. With less than five minutes to go, there was a running clock.
Even though the game got out of hand, Pearson, 52, was happy to coach against a legendary coach like Brinkley, 65, for the first time. Brinkley, who’s in his 32nd year with the Sailors, has led Newport Harbor to the section championship game eight times, winning it three times, in 1994, 1999 and 2005.
“We couldn’t play these guys before,” said Pearson, referring to the different divisions the Sailors and Phantoms were in previous years. “I wouldn’t have even dreamt of playing those guys. I just wanted to be like them. I loved the way he ran his program. I was fortunate enough to get to know him. He was a great help to me.”
Cathedral……………………..6 15 14 13 — 48
Newport Harbor……………0 10 0 0 — 10
C – Zamora 58 pass from Young (pass failed), 5:33.
NH – Schroeder 36 FG, 11:47.
C – Zamora 25 pass from Young (Pringle pass from Young), 8:44.
NH – Cruz 5 pass from Barela (Schroeder kick), 6:57.
C – Zamora 80 pass from Young (Nunez kick), 6:42.
C – Octave 2 run (Nunez kick), 7:43.
C – Pringle 8 pass from Young (Nunez kick), 1:22.
C – Baldelomar 3 pass from Young (Nunez kick), 6:45.
C – Washington 28 INT return (kick blocked), 4:57.
C – Garry, 7-67.
NH – Gregg, 9-53.
C – Young, 26-35-1, 361, 5 TDs.
NH – Barela, 18-35-2, 166, 1 TD.
C – Zamora, 9-246, 3 TDs.
NH – Bashore, 5-79.
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