League landscapes altered

August 24, 2010|By David Carrillo Penaloza
  • Corona del Mar High football coach Jason Hitchens (center) will not miss Laguna Hills in the Pacific Coast League.
Corona del Mar High football coach Jason Hitchens (center)… (FILE PHOTO, Daily…)

The Sunset League will have one of its original high school football teams back and it will affect the strength of the league.

Huntington Beach returns to the 73-year-old league this fall after it left five years ago, right before Newport Harbor rejoined. Gone is Esperanza, which starting in 2005 won or shared the league title for four straight years.

Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said the switch does not really matter to him. The Sailors have been competitive in the Sunset League the past four years, finishing 3-2 every time and two years ago they split the league crown.

"We had played Esperanza tough," said Brinkley, whose Sailors went 3-1 against the Aztecs from 2006 to 2009. "[The Aztecs are] a good program [that is now in the Century League] and I know Huntington's a good program. Huntington's a team that's been on the rise the last couple of years. After going in [the Sea View League], I think they kind of got their legs back under them and got a little more stability.


"[The Oilers] have been in this league before. They know what it's all about. I think it's advantageous for them knowing the league so well."

The Sunset League has not been kind to Huntington Beach.

The Oilers own the second longest league winless streak in Orange County. From 1975 to 1982, Huntington Beach went 0-33-1.

Since the Oilers last won the league championship in 1993, they have finished dead last nine times during a 12-year span.

Huntington Beach was far more competitive in the Sea View League the previous four years. The Oilers' best finish was 3-2, which they recorded twice, good enough for third place in the six-team league and a berth into the CIF Southern Section Southwest playoffs.

Reaching the postseason will be much more arduous in a league with Edison, Los Alamitos and Newport Harbor. Brinkley learned how hard it is to make the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs. The Sailors have advanced only twice since coming over five years ago from the Sea View League, where they perennially earned postseason berths.

Newport Harbor will welcome back the Oilers to the Sunset League in the league opener Oct. 15 at Newport Harbor.

Cecil Whiteside has to go through Santa Ana to reach Berkeley. He expected to be in Berkeley, not Santa Ana this fall.

The former Newport Harbor High standout linebacker has enrolled at Santa Ana College and hopes to attend Cal in the spring, Brinkley said.

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