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Newport tries to move on

Sailors face challenges without their top two players from last season.

August 31, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com
(Don Leach / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Newport Harbor High has the luxury of starting the football season later than most of the local teams.

The Sailors need the extra time with the amount of changes they are dealing with before kicking off the season at home against Trabuco Hills on Sept. 9.

Gone is linebacker Cecil Whiteside, the team's No. 1 player from last season.

Gone is running back Cedric Whitaker, the team's No. 2 player from last season.

Gone is Newport Harbor's 3-4 defense.

Only one first-team All-Sunset League player from a team that finished 6-5, 3-2 in the Sunset League, good for second place, and reached the first round of CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs last year returns.

That player is Parker Norton.

Newport Harbor benefits from the senior starting almost everywhere on the field. Norton will start at wide receiver, cornerback, return punts and kickoffs, and handle holding duties. He cannot do it all by himself.

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Despite all the changes, Coach Jeff Brinkley expects the same out of his Sailors, who are ranked ninth in the Pac-5 preseason poll.

"I was in the meeting with the kids, they understand the expectations are always high around here," said Brinkley, whose team scrimmages at JSerra Thursday night at 7. "Anytime you're in a program that's had success, you expect to win football games."

Here is a position-by-position look at the Sailors:

Quarterback: Austin Rios starts for the second straight season for the Sailors. Brinkley is expecting the senior to put up better numbers than last season.

The stats turned in by Rios in his first year on the job were impressive, 1,274 yards and 15 touchdown passes, earning him second-team all-league honors.

Brinkley said Rios has grown an inch and now stands 6-foot-4. Rios is still thin at 180 pounds, but he throws an accurate ball. Rios completed close to 60% of his passes and only had four interceptions as a junior.

Brinkley said he felt Rios is not getting the respect he deserves in Orange County.

"To be honest with you, I'm surprised [he's not listed] as one of the top quarterbacks coming back," Brinkley said. "I think they put some guys that haven't even taken a snap of varsity football. He's going to be as good as anybody around.

"I can see him playing somewhere [in college]. It just depends on the year he has. If you want to be recruited, you've got to go and play great. It's pretty simple."

Backing up Rios is junior Cole Blower, who is in line to start next year.

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