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Newport Harbor has no answer for Ross in CIF championship setback

Huntington Beach senior does it all, accounting for five touchdowns in leading the Oilers to a 42-28 victory and their first CIF title in 78 years.

December 07, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Newport Harbor High's Garrett Hall, bottom, tries to stop Huntington Beach quarterback Kai Ross during a CIF Southern Section Southwest Division football championship game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Saturday.
Newport Harbor High's Garrett Hall, bottom, tries… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

ANAHEIM — A reporter asked Jeff Brinkley for his thoughts on Kai Ross and it drew a short response from the Newport Harbor High head football coach. He preferred to talk about his Sailors, not the Huntington Beach  player who again proved to be the difference against his team.

Everyone on the field seemed to want to talk about Ross, or to him. He finally appeared with his jersey and shoulder pads off, shortly after leading his Oilers to a 42-28 victory and the program's first CIF Southern Section championship in 78 years.

With everyone else bundled up on a cold Saturday at Angel Stadium, Ross wore a sleeveless T-shirt.

He then excused himself from the throng of people around him to speak with his older brother. A teenager ran up to Ross, not to hand him a jacket or sweater, but rather an iPad. On the device, Ross communicated with his brother, Emmett, who lives in Ohio.

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"Hey!" Ross said to his brother, whose face lit up on the screen as the brothers talked through video chat. "I have a ring to match yours now! We can wear them!"

Ross earned a CIF championship ring just as his brother did seven months ago. While Emmett won his on a volleyball court, Ross is getting his ring because of his stellar all-around performance inside a baseball stadium converted into a football field.

Ross sure found a way to hit the home runs, leading the Oilers against Newport Harbor in the Southwest Division final in front of 7,097 fans. The senior did it all. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, rushed 11 times for 90 yards, returned three kickoffs and two punts for a combined 81 yards, and covered and tackled whoever had the ball.

The biggest plays involved Ross intercepting and returning passes for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Twice in a 10-second span, the cornerback recorded pick sixes, clinching the Oilers' section title.

For the second time since Nov. 8, the Oilers prevented the Sailors from claiming a title. They routed Newport Harbor, 40-14, in the regular-season finale, costing the Sailors a share of the Sunset League title and allowing the fifth-place Oilers to sneak into the playoffs as an at-large entry.

"I didn't think we'd see them again," said Ross, who still remembers the message his coaches gave the Oilers before they hosted the Sailors last month. "We [had] to win by a great margin [back then]. A 17-14 win, I don't think gets us [into the postseason], but a 40-14 win definitely got us [in]."

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