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Locals' survival rate up

November 21, 2005|By By Barry Faulkner

monday morning quarterbacksIt has been 27 seasons since this many teams from Newport-Mesa won first-round games in the CIF football playoffs.For the first time since 1978, and only the second time in history, three Newport-Mesa high school football teams have advanced past the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Newport Harbor and Sage Hill, by virtue of their respective one-point victories, as well as Corona del Mar, which handled Garden Grove by three touchdowns, can all consider Thanksgiving dinner a pregame meal.

Estancia had its season ended by a first-round loss.

The only other time three Newport-Mesa teams posted first-round wins was 1978, when Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa all reached the quarterfinals.

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Here's a look at the local teams:

* NEWPORT HARBOR: Sailors Coach Jeff Brinkley calls the play "Freeze" for a reason.

The play, which is really no play at all since it either concludes with a penalty flag or a Sailor timeout, calls for the quarterback to bark signals under center with the intent of drawing a defender offside.

The call, which drew an encroachment penalty on El Dorado that helped set up a game-winning, 1-yard, two-point conversion run by Ryan Rippon in the Tars' 32-31 overtime CIF Division VI victory Friday night at Valencia High, worked to perfection.

The same was not the case earlier in the season, when a miscommunication in the cadence resulted in the ball being snapped on fourth-down-and-inches from the Sailors' own 15-yard line. That time, on Oct. 7, a short loss gave the ball to Mira Costa. The Mustangs scored a touchdown and went on to win, 23-20, in overtime.

This time, an El Dorado timeout allowed Brinkley and his players to emphasize the instructional aspect of the play's name.

"During that timeout, I must have said 'Freeze' about 10 times and all the players must have repeated it 10 times to themselves, so there wasn't any doubt," Brinkley said. "I heard one player say, 'Close your eyes if you have to.'

"After what happened against Mira Costa, I started to think 'Freeze' maybe wasn't the best name for the play. But I think we learned our lesson. I don't think any of our guys are ever going to move again on that play."

The game-winning conversion run included another strategic ploy, as 6-foot-4, 332-pound senior left tackle Charles Schultz was shifted to right tackle for the play.

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