Matt Burns, a longtime assistant under-then Newport Harbor High football coach Jeff Brinkley, is a finalist to take over the Sailors' program, two sources familiar with the situation said Thursday.
Burns played football for Brinkley in the 1990s and served as an assistant for Brinkley for 20 years, the last three as defensive coordinator. Burns also teaches biology at Newport Harbor. With the school unable to offer a teaching position with the football job, this helps Burns' cause to become the Sailors' next coach, sources said.
Principal Sean Boulton said last Friday that the school would interview candidates for its coaching vacancy this week. Burns interviewed on Tuesday, a source said.
"We are taking our time," Boulton said via text, adding that he will make a decision on who will be the next coach within two weeks. "I can't comment on the interview or who is interviewing."
A source said the school has two other strong finalists with no ties to the school. Burns is so close to Newport Harbor that he lives a couple of blocks away from campus.
Burns was named Newport Harbor's interim coach shortly after Brinkley retired on Jan. 23. In his 32 years at the helm of the Sailors, Brinkley went 244-130-3 overall and won three CIF Southern Section titles and six league titles.
Burns also filled in as head coach in Brinkley's final game on Nov. 3, 2017. Brinkley, 65, left the home game against Huntington Beach at halftime with an irregular heartbeat. Burns and the Sailors wound up sending Brinkley out a winner.