Twenty-four years at Newport Harbor and Brinkley became the eighth coach in the county to lead his team to 200 wins.
The latest wasn’t easy. Facing the No. 6-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division poll, Newport Harbor (4-2, 1-0 in league) trailed Los Alamitos by four points with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left.
To pull off the upset and hand the Griffins (5-1, 0-1) their first loss of the year, the Sailors needed to go 70 yards and score a touchdown.
Before Newport Harbor’s offense took the field, Brinkley looked at quarterback Austin Rios. The first-year starter remembered what the 56-year-old coach told him earlier in the week.
“To be the leader of your team, you got to make plays,” Brinkley said. “The guys have got to look to you to make plays. It’s not talking. It’s not doing anything else, but being the guy who takes us down [the field] and leads us to victory. That’s how you become a leader.”
Rios grew up on the drive, showing the Sailors are serious about defending their league title shared last year.
In 15 plays, Rios delivered in the clutch, converting two first downs on third-down situations and getting the Sailors inside the red zone. When Rios failed on his final third down, the junior still had one more play.
No chance for a first down, it was touchdown or Brinkley was on his way to losing three straight games, something that’s happened only once in the previous 10 years.
On fourth-and-goal on Los Alamitos’ six, Rios rolled left, to his no-throwing side, and hit wide receiver Parker Norton for a touchdown with 85 seconds left to play. Newport Harbor took a 23-20 lead after Dillan Freiberg’s extra-point kick.