SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Newport Harbor High senior linebacker Blair Luchs put the huge hit on the JSerra running back, standing him up and not allowing him to get anywhere near the goal line.
Luchs came off the field and pulled his helmet off, revealing a bloodied nose as he smiled for a quick picture. But that was all right for the Sailors, whose physical play prevented the Lions from getting much going in the teams' scrimmage Thursday night at JSerra.
The Sailors, ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division preseason poll, made sure they were as ready as possible for their season opener next Thursday against Trabuco Hills.
"I thought we hit people tonight on both sides of the ball," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said. "We played very physical … The defense, I thought, played real well. They gave up one or two plays on that slip screen, which we hadn't even talked about. But overall, I was very pleased with what we did."
The Sailors scored five touchdowns in the nearly 90-minute long scrimmage, which wasn't played like a flat-out game but instead put the teams in situations on offense and defense. Still, they limited the Lions to just one touchdown.
Newport Harbor junior running back Buzzy Yokoyama did the most damage on offense, as he had several first-down runs and also scored the game's first touchdown, taking a screen pass from senior quarterback Austin Rios and finding the end zone from 12 yards out. Junior Ted Barry had a big block on the play.
"I'm just trying to step up as a leader," said the shifty Yokoyama, who took most of the first-team reps. "I know I'm only a junior, but I'm working hard and trying to [lead] by example. The line did great today."
Senior Parker Norton caught a 10-yard pass from Rios for the second score, and Drew Diller (run) and Yokoyama (pass) also scored from three yards out. Ryan Andrews capped the scoring on the final play of the scrimmage with another three-yard run.
Norton, who laid a big hit on a JSerra receiver crossing over the middle, also helped lead a defense that at times hurried JSerra junior quarterback Jake Hall. Hall, a Newport Beach resident, grew up in the Newport-Mesa Junior All-American Football program with some of the current Sailors.
His biggest pass play was called back early on due to a penalty, although Hall did put the Lions on the board with a 25-yard touchdown slant pass to Jonavaughn Williams.
"The D-line put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, which helped out a lot," Norton said.
Newport Harbor senior end Mutuvai Asi was constantly in the JSerra backfield, and Brinkley highlighted Diller's play at the same spot.
The Tars' other end, returner Steve Michaelsen, was also in on a number of tackles.
The scrimmage began with kicking. Christian Ochoa made five of six field goals and Jake Ambrose got off a couple nice punts, considering both were nearly blocked by JSerra's Nick Thomas.
On offense, Rios did take a few sacks before giving way to backup quarterback Cole Blower.
"You've always got to do better," Brinkley said. "We didn't pass block great against the blitz, but we didn't have a chance to scout these guys, so you don't know what blitz package they're bringing at you. We really anticipated that they would be pretty vanilla, and that was far from vanilla. We got blitzed from every angle imaginable. We'll work on that and have our protections in order for Trabuco."