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Newport Harbor leery of misstep

November 07, 2002

Barry Faulkner

With two games left in the Sea View League season, the Newport

Harbor High football team remains in position to reach the summit of

the standings. But to earn a chance to battle for at least a share of

their second straight league crown in a Nov. 14 showdown against

first-place Foothill, Coach Jeff Brinkley's Sailors must first avoid

a misstep tonight against Woodbridge at Irvine High.

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The Warriors (1-7, 0-3 in league) are hoping to fulfill their

spoiler role in the 7 o'clock contest against Newport Harbor (6-2,

2-1), ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division VI.

"It's like were climbing Mt. Everest and we can see the peak,"

Brinkley said. "But we still have to go across one of those ladders

and if we rush across, we fall and don't make it. That's the approach

we're taking for this game."

The Sailors have paraded through the Warriors in 11 of their 14

meetings, including three straight wins by a combined 98-15 margin.

Coach Rick Gibson's squad has lost five straight league games and

has been outscored, 137-46, by league foes Irvine, Laguna Hills and

Foothill this fall.

Yet Brinkley, as usual, carefully side-steps underestimating the

Warriors.

"It'll be a good challenge," Brinkley said. "They always play very

emotionally on defense and it's not an easy group to prepare for,

offensively, because their defense comes at you from so many angles.

And they're blitzing 90% of the time."

It's the Newport offense, however, that figures to have the

Woodbridge defensive coaches even more worried.

The Sailors have had success running and passing this year, making

it difficult for any opposing defensive coordinator to try to take

either aspect away.

Senior tailback Dartangan Johnson has rushed for 935 yards and 15

touchdowns and has six straight games of at least 100 yards, behind a

maturing offensive line. Johnson, the school career rushing record

holder with 2,940 yards, has also scored 12 TDs in the last four

games. A modest effort would put him over the 1,000-yard plateau for

the second straight season and also make him the only the sixth

rusher in Newport-Mesa history to enter the 3,000-yard club.

Senior quarterback Michael McDonald has thrown for 1,305 yards,

completing 87 of 153. He has nine TD passes and only three

interceptions and has not thrown a pick his last five games.

McDonald's favorite targets are sophomore Spencer Link and senior

Mike Toole. Link, coming off a personal-best nine receptions for 135

yards and two TDs in the Tars' 28-26 win over Laguna Hills, has 29

catches for 518 yards and six TDs. Toole has 23 receptions for 368

yards and one TD.

The Sailors have won eight of their last nine league games, but

are looking to end a three-game road losing streak that began last

season.

Woodbridge is paced by 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior running back

Dan Oermann, who has compiled 843 rushing yards and eight touchdowns

on 130 carries.

Senior quarterback Tim Kegel is 89 of 230 for 1,080 passing yards,

with nine interceptions and five TD passes.

Ron Rommelfanger leads Warrior receivers with 23 catches for 253

yards and one TD.

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