Brinkley & Co. still grinding

High School Football

For the eighth time in Brinkley's 28 years at the helm, 'Tar Ball' is back in the CIF Southern Section finals.

December 06, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Don Leach / Daily…)

Just the other day, Jeff Brinkley summed up coaching high school football to a new Toby Keith song. The song titled "Hard Way To Make An Easy Living" aptly fits his job at Newport Harbor High.

"People look at [coaching] and think, 'What an enjoyable [job],' and it is enjoyable, but it's a lot of hard work," says Brinkley, sitting in his office while he and his assistants prepare to head out to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon. "These guys put in a lot of hours and they're away from their families."

Brinkley is used to the grueling schedule, which starts at his office at work, moves to the field, and ends back at his office at home, all in the same day. The day starts at 7 a.m. and ends well into the night. The rest of the days are the same, except for Sundays, he and his assistants work from home.


There's a reason why his wife, Laura, tells Brinkley every year in August, "Well, I'll see you in December." It's the first week in December and Brinkley, at 61, is still at it, grinding along with his staff.

One more game remains on the schedule. This is the game coaches dream about reaching every season. These are just illusions, as most coaches don't get to guide a team in a CIF Southern Section championship game.

This is Brinkley's 28th season in charge of the Sailors, and every 3 1/2 years on average, his team finds itself in the big game. The Sailors are back, making an eighth section finals appearance under Brinkley's watch.

When the Sailors (8-5) step on the field to play Huntington Beach (8-5) for the Southwest Division title at Angel Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m., they will come out of the visitor's dugout. Newport Harbor is no visitor to this stage.

Yes, it has been eight years since the school last played for a section crown, but in the Southwest Division, Brinkley says, Newport Harbor can compete with anyone. In their second straight year in the playoff division, which is the equivalent to Division VI, the Sailors have made the quarterfinals and finals.

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