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Norris cool when it counts

Daily Pilot High School Football Player of the Week

Quarterback, who led Newport Harbor to upset of La Habra, has knack for performing under pressure.

November 29, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Newport Harbor High quarterback Cole Norris is the Daily Pilot High School Football Player of the Week.
Newport Harbor High quarterback Cole Norris is the Daily… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Prior to the playoffs, Cole Norris received a text. The quarterback guru Norris works out with outside of Newport Harbor High sent him a message.

Norris isn't one to look past an opponent, but he made sure to save that text from Steve Calhoun. He believed the information in that text might come in handy if the Sailors won at Dana Hills in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs.

"If we beat Dana Hills, he knew we would have to face La Habra next," Norris says of Calhoun, who as the offensive coordinator at Buena Park is familiar with La Habra as both teams are in the Freeway League. "He told me if we're going to have any chance at beating La Habra we were going to have to pass the ball a lot. I ended up telling our coaches that after we beat Dana Hills."

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The Sailors' staff listened to Norris.

The junior quarterback ended up firing the ball 63 times last week. The Sailors needed Norris to throw the ball in the cold for them to upend top-seeded La Habra, 49-48, in the quarterfinals at Davidson Field.

These Sailors aren't the Sailors of the past. They didn't ground and pound their way to their 10th semifinal appearance in 28 years under Coach Jeff Brinkley.

They let Norris chuck the ball all evening, all over the field. And he performed, completing 36 passes for 474 yards and five touchdowns, the last two stats are Newport Harbor single-game records.

Each pass counted, his 63rd and final one tied the game at 48-48 with 50 seconds left. All that remained, after Norris threw a 16-yard strike to wide receiver Quest Truxton for a touchdown near the pylon, was the extra-point kick.

Norris stayed on the field. His next duty required him to hold the ball for the kicker. Norris, on one knee, received the snap and let kicker Michael Schultz put Newport Harbor ahead for good.

These late game-winning drives can drive teams crazy and give coaches ulcers. Brinkley and the Sailors are used to Norris' fourth-quarter act.

The latest comeback allowed Newport Harbor to reach its first semifinal game in eight years. The Sailors (7-5) play host to Fullerton (10-2) on Friday at 7 p.m.

"It all starts with the man in charge of the offense," Truxton says of Norris. "He has all the confidence and we all think we can come back from anything."

Since his first start on varsity last year, Norris has proved the Sailors can overcome any deficit. With options like Truxton and Cory Stowell to throw to, Norris says they make it easier for him to succeed.

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