The Newport Harbor High football program has been a year-in, year-out Sunset League contender, largely due to its trademark discipline under coach Jeff Brinkley. But in 2017, this crucial trait has been glaringly absent.
The Sailors fell to 0-4 with a 21-13 nonleague loss at Los Altos on Friday night, the school’s worst start since 1981. Turnovers, missed opportunities and untimely defensive lapses were front and center throughout the evening.
“We self-destructed quite often,” Brinkley said. “We had some penalties early on that hurt us, then we turned the ball over four times, You just can’t win doing that. It’s only going to get tougher here on out for us.”
Self-inflicted damage would hinder the Sailors throughout the contest. On the first two drives of the game alone, they allowed Los Altos to extend the drive four times on fourth down — three as a result of penalties, with a pair of false starts on fourth-and-four. Each of their four turnovers on the night also negated any momentum built from their most complete defensive effort this season.
Newport Harbor struggled to get going offensively, but the defense kept the Sailors in the game throughout. They held Los Altos to a field goal in the first quarter, and had given up just 11 points at the half. This came after giving up an average of 24 points in the first half the last two weeks.
Junior quarterback Sam Barela continued to lead the offense with an impressive first half, completing six of eight passes for 120 yards. The Sailors took the lead momentarily in the second quarter, as senior running back Jaylen Andrews capped a Barela-led drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Los Altos answered back, though, and would never look back. The Conquerors (4-1) responded to Andrews’ touchdown by marching 80 yards on four plays — the highlight coming on a 58-yard scamper from senior quarterback Kody Olmos. Senior running back Keith Anderson found the end zone a couple plays later, setting Los Altos off on an 18-7 run to end the game.
Barela failed to replicate his first-half success, tossing a pair of third-quarter interceptions. The second pick would prove particularly costly. Rolling out near the goal line, Barela had a Sailors receiver open in the flat with a chance to cut into a double-digit deficit. Instead, the signal-caller forced a contested throw that resulted in an interception to Los Altos senior Anthony Lopez.
“We preached it all week,” Los Altos Coach Hector Spathias said. “Whoever wins the turnover battle, when you have two even teams, they’re going to win the ballgame.
Jake Bashore was a bright spot offensively, carrying the Sailors’ passing attack with five receptions for 114 yards. The senior wide receiver would cool down significantly down the stretch, however, being held to just one catch for 11 yards over the final two quarters.
“We played really hard on defense, and just made some mistakes,” Bashore said. “We’re trying to get ready for league play and we just really want to make the playoffs.”
Newport Harbor looks to pick up its first victory of the season Sept. 28 at home against Cathedral.
Los Altos 21, Newport Harbor 13
Newport Harbor……….0 6 0 7 — 13
Los Altos………………….3 8 7 3 — 21
LA – 25 field goal Medina – 2:22
NH – 1 run Andrews (PAT no good) 4:24
LA – 1 run Anderson (2pt conversion good) – 3:14
LA – Peoples 55 pass Olmos (PAT good) – 8:20
NH – Harvey 2 pass Barela (PAT good)- 8:40
LA – 17 field goal Medina – :32
NH – Andrews 12-32 yards, one TD
LA – Anderson 22-82 yards, one TD
NH – Barela 14-26-2, 245 yards, one TD
LA – Olmos 12-22 177 yards, one TD
NH – Bashore 5-114 yards
LA – Peoples 3-74 yards, one TD
JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell
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