'94 Sailors' ultimate video: Hitting the wall

September 26, 2004


The heart and soul of every successful football program is the weight

room, where the basics are boiled down to the noise and din, and an

aroma of success.

At Newport Harbor High the walls are decorated with past glories

and as you leave there is an inspirational message painted on the

wall above the door, capped with the classic line: "How do I want to


be remembered?"

How do I remember the Tars of '94?

It's been 10 years since that remarkable campaign of 14 victories,

no defeats, no ties, no arguments. No matter how good anyone who

comes down the lane, nobody's going to do any better.

As a sportswriter, it was my annual routine over 20-plus seasons

to make the rounds with the photographers as we conducted "photo

day," getting our base material ready for the season. And I always

looked forward to Irvine and 16th, where the Newport Harbor Sailors

awaited. As a sports editor since 1988, the routine continued for a

time, and 1994 was no different.

They were always ready, never a glitch, and the proceeding was as

smooth as silk.

How do I remember?

Danny Pulido was a sophomore and standing 6-foot-4, weighing 190,

appeared as if a Greek god.

What an emergence, considering the Sailors' attack no longer

included the graduated Wade Tift and a host of others that resulted

in just three returning offensive starters.

I had already spoken with the coach, Jeff Brinkley, to put

together my list of special subjects and he had offered various

inside information to assist me in putting the list together.

Defensively, he told me, the real key was a 5-foot-9 noseguard

named Bill Johns, a second-team all-league returner.

The appraisal was glowing and it had stuck in my mind as the

Sailors approached.

So you can imagine my thoughts as this polite, happy and pleasant

kid with an angelic face came forth, representing Brinkley's

so-called vaunted defense.

It's the only moment in an association nearing 20 years that I

found myself believing Brinkley was either pulling off an unheard-of

prank, or was flat deceiving me. This nice kid can't possibly be the

key to Harbor's defense, I told myself.

A chess player? The best trumpet player in the band? A class

president? A 4.0 student? I could buy any of that, and more. But

Harbor's noseguard? Sure, and I'll be signing my contract with the

Rams next week.

Little did I know I had been looking at a reincarnation of Audie


As time went along, nobody made the same mistake as this virtual

assassin on the field would flatten ballcarriers, then pat them on

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