Andy Rankin, who quarterbacked the freshman team three seasons ago, the
trio has helped make things difficult for opposing signal callers and
running backs, alike.
By design, the linebackers make the majority of the tackles for the
Sailors and this Big Blue Wrecking Crew, which averages 6-foot-2, 227
pounds, has taken that responsibility to heart.
Teams are averaging just 92 rushing yards and 13.4 points against the
Sailors, who enter the final week of the regular season 7-2, 2-1 in
league, and primed to make their 15th postseason appearance in the last
In a 35-24 nonleague victory at Cathedral City Friday, the senior trio
helped shut down the Lions, until they scored two touchdowns in the final
12 seconds. The two late touchdowns, including a 53-yard bomb as time
expired, cut into what would have been a thorough stifling of a Lion
squad that came in averaging nearly 36 points.
Their outstanding play, however, has not been a surprise to Coach Jeff
"With Alan (All-CIF and the Newport-Mesa District Defensive Player of
the Year in 1999) and Chris (the Daily Pilot Sea View League MVP a year
ago) coming back, there were some high expectations for this group,"
Brinkley said. "And Andy had shown the year before he could do the job
(with some quality time spelling Manderino and then-senior Mike Tunney)."
Versatility has been the key for the threesome, the biggest cumulative
set of 'backers in Brinkley's 15-year tenure.
"Chris obviously plays well in space and Andy started out in our
program as a quarterback-defensive back, so we knew he could move
around," Brinkley said. "And Alan has been a big surprise this year, in
terms of how well he's been able to move.
"In our system, you've got to have linebackers who can run a little
and these guys have done a real good job getting to the football."