Sailors want to max out

High School Football

Newport Harbor receives a boost and motivation from documentary about 1970 football team.

June 15, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Newport Harbor High junior Ramsey Hufford attempts to squat 533 pounds during the school's annual lift-a-thon on Friday. Hufford completed a squat of 506 pounds prior to this weight attempt.
Newport Harbor High junior Ramsey Hufford attempts to… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Ernie Johnson didn't get to see the amount of weight football players benched or squatted at Newport Harbor High on Friday.

The players saw Johnson, a former coach, after the lift-a-thon that 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior lineman Ramsey Hufford won. Hufford is the lone member of the school's 1,500-pound club, which includes the bench press, squat, power clean and snatch.

Johnson, a small guy, did a lot more heavy lifting in his one season with the Sailors 43 years ago.

Hufford and his teammates saw how much on a screen, in a documentary playing at the campus' Loates Hall theater. They saw Johnson lift the 1970 football program to its first Sunset League title in 28 years.

The documentary, "Touchdown Newport," told the story of how one man turned a bunch of surfers into football players, in just one year. Two members from that team, Randy Hamilton and Tony Horvath, directed and produced the documentary.


Showing the film to his team was important to the current coach, Jeff Brinkley. Many in attendance, including the coaching staff, saw it for the first time.

Brinkley had viewed the footage before, but he already knew Johnson. He played for him at Cerritos College, the year after Johnson left Newport Harbor.

Brinkley heard all the stories, mostly jokes about Johnson's one-year stint with the Sailors from the actual source. How one of the player's parents owned the nicest hotel in Brinkley's hometown of Norwalk. How one player's parents owned a Rolls-Royce and drove him to school in it. How no one from Johnson's former high school, El Rancho in Pico Rivera, had ever seen such a car.

Well, Newport Harbor hadn't seen a Sunset League crown since 1942. It was Johnson's job to steer a bunch of privileged kids to a league championship. He had won a lot at his former stop, El Rancho, where he guided the school to CIF Southern Section Division 4-A titles in 1966 and '68.

While Johnson didn't stick around to lead the Sailors to a section crown, Brinkley said Johnson helped start Newport Harbor's program.

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