“They don’t know exactly what’s wrong,” said Brinkley, adding he will start Austin Turner at inside linebacker, Whiteside’s position. “We’re going to wait until the swelling goes down and he’ll get an MRI.
“You want your best guys around in a game like this, but we have other guys. We try and coach them and they’re competitive kids.”
Brinkley said he’s unsure when Whiteside, a four-year starter, will return.
Whiteside, who also plays wide receiver and returns kicks, injured his elbow early in the second quarter of the Sailors’ 34-6 loss to Edison. He returned in the second half and played defense, never taking a snap on offense against the Chargers, the No. 1-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division poll.
Fountain Valley (7-0, 2-0) is No. 6 and Newport Harbor faces a couple of problems.
No. 1 is senior running back Kyle Middlebrooks.
No. 2, as in Whiteside’s jersey number, might not be on the field to stop No. 1.
Last year’s game against these two teams put Newport Harbor in a hole and elevated the Barons’ confidence. Middlebrooks scored a game-winning 52-yard touchdown on a draw play with 30 seconds left, lifting Fountain Valley to a 22-21 upset.
Newport Harbor and Fountain Valley went on to share the league title with three other teams. Had the Sailors stopped Middlebrooks, they win, 21-16, and finish as outright league champs because of how the season ended.
Newport Harbor won its final three league games to finish 3-2, splitting the championship, and finding itself out of the playoffs due a random tiebreaker process.
This year, the Sailors hope to qualify for the postseason. A victory against the Barons will go a long way in boosting their chances.
Brinkley said the Sailors aren’t seeking revenge against Fountain Valley. Still, last year’s loss stung.
“We were not happy getting beat by those guys,” Brinkley said.
“They’ve got the running back and quarterback [Dominic Ragland], both returning guys, both really good athletes. [Middlebrooks] is the fastest kid in the state.”
Middlebrooks is continuing to show his breakaway speed. He finished second in the CIF State track and field championships last year in the 100 meters.
Through seven games this year, Middlebrooks has rushed for 1,204 yards. He’s on pace to break the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,522 yards he set last year.
Without Whiteside, Middlebrooks might record another 200-yard game against Newport Harbor.
One inside linebacker Brinkley expects to start tonight is Ryan Andrews. Brinkley said the junior’s knee is healthy.
Brinkley wished he could say the same thing about Whiteside’s elbow.