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High School Football: Tars in title game

Newport Harbor to play for CIF Southern Section Southwest Division title after beating Fullerton.

November 29, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Don Leach / Daily…)

The Newport Harbor High football team let a Sunset League title get away three weeks ago at Huntington Beach. Coach Jeff Brinkley called out his team's effort afterward.

The Sailors are going to see that team again next week. You had better believe the Sailors aren't going to lay down in the next meeting.

Newport Harbor will be playing the Oilers for a CIF Southern Section Southwest Division title at Angel Stadium Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.

The Sailors earned a trip to their first section finals appearance in eight years after they defeated Fullerton, 28-17, in the semifinals at Davidson Field on Friday.

A day after Thanksgiving, the Sailors (8-5) have a lot to be thankful for this time of the year. They are still competing and they get another shot at Huntington Beach (8-5), the fifth-place team from the Sunset League. The Oilers stunned defending Southwest Division champion Edison, 28-21, in the semifinals.

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"I had a feeling," Brinkley said of the Oilers pulling off the upset against Edison, which won the Sunset League. "They beat us up pretty good the first time [we played and lost, 40-14]. We'll take [a rematch]."

The Sailors are back in a section finale, their eighth in 28 years under Brinkley. They returned because of their second-half play against Fullerton (10-3).

The offense began to find a rhythm late in the third quarter. The Sailors secured the ball after they lost fumbles at the start of the second and third quarters.

Late in the third quarter, with Fullerton ahead, 10-7, Newport Harbor went to the air. Cole Norris, who in the first half looked nothing like the quarterback who threw for 474 yards and five touchdowns last week in the quarterfinals against top-seeded La Habra, came alive. He found wide receiver Cory Stowell on a 52-yard pass, surpassing Norris' first-half yardage on just one play.

Norris went to Stowell again a couple of plays later. He rolled to his left and a hit a wide-open Stowell in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. The play seemed like the same one that worked 2 minutes into the game, when he hooked up with receiver Quest Truxton for an 11-yard touchdown.

Norris' second touchdown pass gave the Sailors a 14-10 lead. And they continued to add to it, the defense playing a key role. Lineman Joey Stukonis made a crucial tackle behind the line of scrimmage and the momentum seemed to switch to Newport Harbor's side before the start of the fourth quarter.

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