Prep column: It doesn't get better than this

December 05, 2000

Barry Faulkner

When was the last time you pumped your fist in public? Or hugged

someone not on your Christmas list?

I saw plenty of both taking place immediately following Newport Harbor

High's 35-16 CIF Southern Section Division VI football semifinal victory

over top-seeded La Mirada Saturday at the Sailors' field.

It was yet another example of how prep sports can lift human


existence, emotionally jar one from his/her daily grind, and leave a

lasting memory that should, upon reflection, prompt a satisfied smile.

Either Newport Harbor or Irvine will be similarly exultant after

Friday's Division VI title game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Orange Coast


But both should thoroughly enjoy the experience, regardless of the

outcome, as should those rooters expected to exceed LeBard Stadium's

7,600 seating capacity.

Newport Coach Jeff Brinkley, who'll be gunning for his third section

crown in his fifth championship game since 1992, hopes to squeeze in

enough time to take in the surroundings Friday night.

After Harbor's 19-18 triumph over Irvine in last year's Division VI

title game, Brinkley said he regretted not having soaked in the euphoria

displayed by the celebrating Harbor fans as the final minutes ticked off

the clock.

"I tell myself I need to enjoy it a little more," Brinkley said.

"Watching myself on film toward the end of last year's game, I was still

focused on the game. I hope it's enjoyable for the kids and it should be

for us coaches, too."

Irvine Coach Terry Henigan, speaking at Monday's press conference

luncheon for all the Southern Section finalists, offered a surprising

take on last year's final. The Vaqueros led, 12-0 and 18-6, had another

touchdown nullified by penalty and had one of its running backs stumble

and fall after beating the last Harbor defender, only to see the Sailors


"I was probably as ill as I've ever been with any loss, immediately

after the game," Henigan said. "But, 10 minutes later, I loved it. It was

such a great high school football game, between two classy programs that

don't know how to quit. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've

had in coaching."

Henigan, 132-90-5 in his 20th season as Irvine's head man, has had

many enjoyable experiences, including three straight section titles from

1991-93. But, he has never had an unbeaten campaign, something this

year's Sea View League champions hope to finish out Friday.

Henigan's work load has expanded this season. He continues to coach

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