HUNTINGTON BEACH — Coach Jeff Brinkley stood on the football field while his Newport Harbor High team walked back to the bus dejected.
He said his Sailors had played better teams than Huntington Beach and will play better teams in the future.
In the present, the Sailors dropped a crucial Sunset League game at Huntington Beach. Brinkley explained his team's 35-7 setback on Friday night.
"They were more motivated," Brinkley said of the Oilers. "They were more motivated than we were."
That might be hard to swallow for Newport Harbor fans.
But in a contest with CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoff implications, the opposing coach said he saw the same thing Brinkley did. What Newport Harbor lacked, the Oilers did not.
They were inspired from start to finish. The result was Huntington Beach's first victory against the Sailors in 20 years.
"This is the biggest win since I've been the head coach here," said Eric Lo, who's in his fifth year at Huntington Beach. "We're not taking [this game] that [it] was for third place [in league]. We've got bigger goals than that."
Coaches in the league picked the Oilers to finish in third place, which most likely guarantees them the league's third and last playoff berth.
The Oilers (6-1, 2-0 in league) won their fifth straight game and they're atop the league standings with Edison. The Sailors (3-4, 1-1) share second place with defending league champion Los Alamitos.
Newport Harbor plays host to the Griffins next week. The way Brinkley sees it, the Sailors' backs are against the wall.
"We know now we got to win some games here consecutively to have a chance to get into the playoffs," Brinkley said.
The Sailors are going to have to find ways to move the ball if they want to return to the postseason for a third year in a row. Two first downs through three quarters will not beat anyone.
That is how many Newport Harbor produced before the start of the fourth quarter, when the Oilers led, 28-0.
Quarterback Michael Chislock had just thrown his second touchdown pass. The senior ran for two touchdowns earlier, and finished with 207 yards passing and 65 yards rushing.
Last year, when these two teams met, it was Cole Blower outshining Chislock. Blower's first varsity start at quarterback came in that game against Huntington Beach.
The senior's second outing against the Oilers wasn't as impressive.
On the game's opening drive, the Oilers hurried to the end zone. They covered 80 yards on 11 plays in less than four minutes.
When you run a no-huddle spread offense, you can move the ball really fast.
Lo said the Oilers wanted to jump on the Sailors early. Some trickery helped.
After Chislock's four-yard touchdown run, Huntington Beach caught Newport Harbor by surprise on the ensuing kickoff.
The Oilers tried a pooch kick and recovered the ball on the Sailors' 37. It was the second onside kick the Oilers attempted and recovered in the first half.
But each time, they failed to take advantage, coming away with zero points. A 15-yard penalty forced Huntington Beach to punt the first time.
The second time they tried an onside kick, it came after the Oilers took a 14-0 lead on Chislock's 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ramon Vargas. This time, they pounced on the ball on the Sailors' 48.
The offense moved into the red zone, but Newport Harbor held, forcing a 31-yard field-goal attempt. The field goal was the second missed by Huntington Beach.
The missed opportunities kept the Sailors in it at halftime, as they trailed, 14-0. The Oilers dominated the time of possession, converting seven-of-10 first downs on third down to keep drives alive.
In the first half, Huntington Beach moved the chains 18 times, compared to the Sailors' doing so only twice. The Oilers had 325 yards of offense to the Sailors' 44 in the first 24 minutes.
The final 24 minutes weren't much better.
The Sailors recorded a first down for the first time in the second half with 9:58 left to play. They went almost 26 minutes without a first down.
On the next play, Blower hit tight end Vince Aqueveque on a 52-yard touchdown pass. On one play, the Sailors surpassed their combined yard total at the time.
"We couldn't get anything established offensively and then they would go on the long drives," said Brinkley, whose ground game finished with minus-four yards, compared to Huntington Beach tailback Nolan Biegel's 214 yards. "We wouldn't even get a chance to get it going."
Huntington Beach 35, Newport Harbor 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntington 7 - 7 - 14 - 7 – 35
Newport 0 - 0 - 0 - 7 – 7
HB – Chislock 4 run (Thomas kick), 8:15.
HB – Vargas 20 pass from Chislock (Thomas kick), 8:03.
HB – Chislock 14 run (Thomas kick), 5:59.
HB – Ross 17 pass from Chislock (Thomas kick), :46.
NH – Aqueveque 52 pass from Blower (Ochoa kick), 9:50.
HB – Biegel 45 run (Thomas kick), 7:06.
NH – Hasson, 9-18.
HB – Biegel, 28-214, 1 TD.
NH – Blower, 13-18-0, 126, 1 TD.
HB – Chislock, 17-32-0, 207, 2 TDs.
NH – Aqueveque, 1-52, 1 TD.
HB – Vargas, 9-105, 1 TD.