Newport's grid squads of '73 and '74 shined

January 23, 2005


Newport Harbor High's football team of 2004 swept to the Sea View

League championship and appeared in the CIF Division VI playoffs

before finally bowing out with a sterling 12-1-1 record. Sound

familiar? It should.

The Sailors have been racking up plum seasons for a long time now,

and a case can be made for any number of them as "The All-Time Best."


There wasn't much doubt in 1942 when Hal Sheflin & Co. rumbled to

a 9-0 regular season record and the Sunset League championship before

bowing out in the CIF Small Schools Final to the Glenn Davis-led

Bonita Bearcats. Over the next 18 years only Al Irwin's '49 team,

which went 8-1, and Ernie Johnson's 8-2 Sunset League co-champions

gave rise to speculation.

And for the past 19 years Coach Jeff Brinkley's Sailors have been

pounding away with a steady procession of "Teams to Remember," as in

the 11-3 team of '92; the perfect '94 (14-0); the explosive '96

(12-2) and '99 (13-0-1) teams, which rolled up over 35 and 31 points

a game, respectively, with '99 claiming the CIF crown; the 10-3

outfit of '97; and the back-to-back double-digit winners of '00 and

'01 (11-3 and 10-2-1).

There is one other group, and the one which I'd like to focus on.

Don Lent's last team and Bill Pizzica's first in a storied era of

1973 and '74 when the Sailors racked up back-to-back Sunset League

championships with records of 9-2 and 10-2.

What sets this group apart from the rest? The sheer number of

players who would go on to play in college circles.

No two teams have ever produced in terms of talent as did these

two when you consider the rosters.

Lent's coaching staff included Sid Shue, Larry Doyle, Hank

Cochrane, Jud Brown, Rocky Ford, Jim Bratten and Pizzica; and

Pizzica's coaching staff consisted of Doyle, Bratten, Ford and


A competent staff?

"I played under Dennis Green, Bill Walsh and Rod Dowhower at

Stanford," said '73 and '74 starter Vinnie Mulroy, "and I didn't

learn one thing from them that I hadn't already learned from Hank


Quarterbacks Steve Bukich and Gordon Adams went to UCLA and USC.

Bukich was betrayed when the Bruins failed to live up to an expected

drop-back attack; Adams, a walk-on who was never considered for even

a second-team all-league berth in high school, blossomed into a

starter, leading the Trojans to Rose Bowl glory.

Mulroy was a standout receiver at Stanford, and placekicker Art

Sorce, with CIF record-breaking efforts, appeared to be headed for

big things before falling out of grace at USC.

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