"I'm really happy for the players, especially the seniors, who were flipped out two years ago," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said after the Sailors' second straight shutout put them into the playoffs for the 18th time in the last 22 seasons, all under Brinkley's reign. "We're not flipping this year, which is nice, because our track record in those things isn't very good."
After finishing in a five-way tie for first place in 2008, Newport Harbor sat out the playoffs after a random draw rendered them one of two odd teams out.
Last year, after winning on the final week of the regular season, they were wedged into a three-way tie for second place. A postgame coin-flip session was held and, once again, they were denied an automatic berth, though they were granted an at-large entry about 38 hours later.
Brinkley said it is likely the Sailors will be on the road against a league champion in the first round of the playoffs. But any apprehension over such an underdog pairing was not enough to wipe a satisfied grin off his face following Friday's suspenseless triumph.
What's more, Yokoyama, who was sidelined for much of league with a dislocated kneecap, appeared to have regained the explosive form that he displayed during the Tars' 3-0 start.
"He's now back to full strength," Brinkley said of the junior darter, who had scoring runs of 22, 14 and two yards and added pickups of 46, 31 and 17 yards. Yokoyama, who had a potential fourth touchdown nullified by a holding penalty, was about all the offense the visitors needed.