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Calling the Shots:

Keeping it local a hard task

August 19, 2009|By Steve Virgen

He let me know that his son, J.C. and teammate Chris Johnstone were two of the top players for the Junior Midget squad, made up of mostly eighth graders, playing their last season before entering high school.

Genova did acknowledge that CdM’s program has changed under Coach Jason Hitchens, who is entering his second year. When he first came on, Hitchens made it a priority to try to keep the players who live in the area at CdM. But like all coaches, they must adhere to undue influence rules and not come into contact with the players.

He can only build his program that kids would want to stay and play for him. The same goes for Jeff Brinkley at Newport Harbor, actually for all Newport-Mesa coaches in every sport. We know this issue is not only prevalent in football, it just seems to be the more apparent, especially in the case of Barkley.


Though Brinkley also believes in making his program attractive for the young players, he doesn’t turn away youth football.

“We certainly want to support youth football,” said Brinkley, who is entering his 24th season with the Sailors. “Those guys do a great job ... Realistically for us, we hope that the district has that our school will become open for eighth graders.”

Brinkley, who said he is more than willing to also advise youth football coaches, is also hopeful for other things for his program. The main hope: a new artificial turf at Davidson Field.

“Someday when they turf the field, hopefully we can get [the Seahawks] over there, at least playing at our school,” he said.

Having a strong relationship with the nearest youth football program certainly doesn’t hurt, but again, it takes a community.

I’ll tell you this, it doesn’t hurt that Estancia has a new football stadium. Just in its second year, Jim Scott Stadium has been a strong source in helping keep the young players here. The results are yet to be seen, but there has been progress already.

It may only seem like it’s just turf, but it goes a long way.

This is why Davidson Field needs new turf, the modern kind, the good stuff. It’s long overdue.

Newport Harbor has a solid program and it competes in the Pac-5 Division. But there are steps the school must take if it’s ever going to consistently compete in the CIF Southern Section’s top division.

It seems as if all the other pieces are in place: a coach who has built a strong tradition at the school, great support from the community and the school is in an affluent area.

Newport Harbor wouldn’t be the only school using the field. Corona del Mar would be there too.

I understand that it wouldn’t totally keep players from leaving the area and going to a different school. But it would at least make for a stronger option than the one available now.

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