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Sailors nab big victory

Newport Harbor’s Whitaker steps up against Loyola, ranked No. 10 in CIF Southern Section Pac-5.

September 17, 2009|By David Carrillo Peñaloza

NEWPORT BEACH — Until this month, Cedric Whitaker said he hadn’t played a football game in four years.

Two games into his first season at Newport Harbor High, Whitaker is making it look easy.

If you haven’t heard of No. 28, the junior transfer from San Francisco made a name for himself Thursday night.

In his home debut, Whitaker rushed for 140 yards and scored three touchdowns, including an electrifying 94-yard kickoff return that swung the momentum and allowed Newport Harbor to upset Loyola, 28-14, in a nonleague game.

Instead of going into the final quarter with a seven-point lead, Whitaker put the Sailors back in control.

Newport Harbor (2-0) appeared to lose the momentum late in the third quarter when Whitaker fumbled. On the following play, Loyola cut the deficit to seven points with 61 seconds left in the quarter.

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Fifteen seconds later, Whitaker made up for the gaffe.

He delivered the deafening blow, knocking out the No. 10th-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division. Loyola (1-2) kicked his way.

A little communication by Whitaker and his fellow kick returner Cecil Whiteside helped. Whitaker yelled at Whiteside, “Switch it up! Let me get on that side!”

The two changed spots and Whitaker got his hands on the kick at the six. He exploded up the field, eluding tacklers before displaying a move unseen at Davidson Field.

At midfield, Whitaker spun away from multiple defenders and raced in for a 94-yard score, giving the Sailors a 28-14 lead.

“That was my job to get it back,” Whitaker said of redeeming himself.

“I’m just now getting back, getting good. I’ve been practicing, just trying to get my weight up. I’m not that big.”

The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder is sure hard to tackle. Whitaker showed his elusiveness, finishing with 248 total yards.

So far this year he has scored five touchdowns, three rushing, one on special teams and one on a fumble recovery.

For someone recovering from a fractured shoulder, Whitaker can handle the workload. Twenty times against Loyola he carried the ball, finishing with half of the team’s rushes.

Whitaker impressed Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley, who started the speedster for the first time. Brinkley is now two wins away from claiming his 200th career victory at Newport Harbor.

“He’s just figuring this out,” said Brinkley, who’s in his 24th year. “Believe me, he’ll keep getting better every week.”

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