Brinkley still passionate

High School Football

Coach enters his 26th season with a strong passion to maintain tradition at Newport Harbor.

September 01, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Those who are close to Coach Jeff Brinkley know he isn't much of a party guy.

Yet, he is having a big bash on Sept. 17, the day after his Newport Harbor High football team plays its second game of the year.

The Sailors are going to celebrate the man behind the program for the past 25 years. Brinkley calls the event at the Balboa Pavilion more of a fundraising one for his program.

"Hopefully, there [are] some heavy hitters [coming]," Brinkley said with a laugh.

Every player who has played for Brinkley or coached under him is invited. In Brinkley's eyes, his players and assistants are why he is still around.

This year marks his 26th at Newport Harbor. On this level, he has accomplished almost everything a coach can.

He's won 208 games at Newport Harbor. Only seven other coaches in Orange County are in the 200-win club.


He's won three CIF Southern Section titles. He's won six league titles.

At age 58, Brinkley is hungry for even more. He doesn't know when he plans to retire.

There is no quit in him.

"I'm feeling good," said Brinkley, who turns 59 on Sept. 21. "As long as I enjoy it and have the energy, it's a lot of work, obviously, I'm going to stay after it. I enjoy being around the kids. I enjoy the competition.

"I have a great camaraderie with my coaching staff. I've been lucky with the continuity with those guys."

While assistants come and go at other schools, Brinkley has four longtime assistants.

Defensive coordinator Tony Ciarelli has been with Brinkley for 18 years. Offensive backs coach Bill Brown has been at the school 30 years, four years longer than Brinkley.

Receivers coach Bill Calloway enters his 19th year under Brinkley and linebackers coach Matt Burns his 14th year.

Burns played for Brinkley, as have three of Brinkley's younger assistants, Danny Pulido (defensive line), Garrett Govaars (defensive backs) and George Greenwalt (tight ends).

"These guys have all hung [with me]," Brinkley said.

Loyalty is huge with Brinkley.

The lines were crossed this summer, when his starting running back, Buzzy Yokoyama, left the program after a standout junior year.

Brinkley said Yokoyama, who went through spring ball with the Sailors, came to him the day before school was out and told him he was transferring to Mission Viejo High. Brinkley never saw it coming, losing his hard-running tailback, who helped the team finish third in the Sunset League and qualify for the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.

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