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Newport Harbor football starts 6-0 for first time in 25 years with win over Fountain Valley

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Justin McCoy runs for a large gain in Newport Harbor’s Sunset League opener against Fountain Valley on Friday at Davidson Field.
(Drew A. Kelley)

With starting quarterback Cole Lavin out with a knee injury, it looked like the Newport Harbor High football team’s perfect record could be in jeopardy, but Justin McCoy had other ideas.

The junior running back was spectacular, rushing 15 times for 165 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Sailors to a 38-24 win over visiting Fountain Valley in a Sunset League opener on Friday at Davidson Field.

The Sailors are 6-0 for the first time since 1994, the same year the program capped a 14-0 season with its first CIF Southern Section title.

Newport Harbor, which went winless in league play last year, earned its first league victory in two years. The Sailors, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 poll, have turned things around from a year ago.

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“We had a really good week of practice and it showed on the field,” McCoy said. “Getting Eriq [Hilliard] back [after the 6-foot-3, 305-pounder had to sit out first 30 days because of the transfer rule] on the offensive line was big. I had huge holes to run through.”

Nick Kim started at quarterback in place of Lavin and didn’t look out of place. The sophomore completed 25 of 33 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown, with one pick in his debut.

Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse felt his offense wouldn’t miss a beat, despite not having its junior starting quarterback in the lineup. Lavin got hurt in the Sailors’ 48-7 win over San Marino on Sept. 27.

“We’ve had a lot of confidence in Nick since he showed [up] on our campus,” Lofthouse said. “It wasn’t a secret to us he can play that well. He always prepares himself, even when Cole was healthy.”

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The Barons (3-3), ranked No. 10 in Division 7, got a big game from go-to receiver Blake Anderson, who caught 12 passes for 175 yards and a score. Quarterback Jimmy Russell finished 17 of 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also led the team with 54 yards rushing.

Fountain Valley hung around with the Sailors throughout much of the game, only trailing by seven points early in the third, before defensive issues cost the Barons.

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Newport Harbor’s James Crowell runs the ball for a first down against Fountain Valley in a Sunset League opener on Friday at Davidson Field.
(Drew A. Kelley)

“It’s a simple game. We got out of our gaps a couple of times and they hit on big runs,” said Fountain Valley coach Chris Andersen, who was the offensive line coach at Newport Harbor from 2010-17. “Some fundamental things we need to clean up defensively before next week [against Los Alamitos at Cerritos College].”

The Chargers score three touchdowns off four fumble recoveries in Friday’s 42-21 victory over the Griffins in a Sunset League opener at Cap Sheue Field.

Newport Harbor’s opening drive started off well, but back-to-back penalties pushed the Sailors deep into their own end, forcing a punt.

It looked like Newport Harbor’s defense made up for the offensive miscues on Fountain Valley’s first possession. Russell lost the ball when he was hit as he threw. It was scooped up by Kaden Stowell and taken to the house for what appeared to be the game’s first score.

The officials discussed the play and decided to rule it an incomplete pass, nullifying the touchdown.

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The Sailors made up for it on their next drive. Despite being pinned back on their own 10, it took two plays for Newport Harbor to take the lead. Kim connected with Aidan Goltz for a 35-yard completion down the sideline.

On the next play, McCoy looked like a rocket, blasting off for a 55-yard touchdown run to give the Sailors a 7-0 lead.

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Fountain Valley’s Jimmy Russell throws a long pass in a Sunset League opener at Newport Harbor on Friday.
(Drew A. Kelley)

Fountain Valley answered right back when its dormant offense finally came alive late in the first quarter. Russell took advantage of some sloppy coverage over the middle by Newport Harbor, hitting Anderson for a 50-yard touchdown down the middle of the field, tying it up at 7-7.

Newport Harbor didn’t waste any time taking the lead back. Kim completed all four of his passes to open the second quarter. The drive was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Austin Muro, putting the Sailors back in front 14-7.

The teams exchanged field goals and it was 17-10 Sailors early in the third quarter, when McCoy once again showed off his wheels on Newport Harbor’s first possession of the second half. He bolted for a 45-yard touchdown run on the drive’s third play from scrimmage, putting Newport Harbor up 24-10 early in the third, before putting it out of reach.

Kim connected with Goltz on a couple of big gains, setting up McCoy’s third touchdown of the night, this one from 16 yards out. Goltz had eight receptions for 122 yards.

McCoy added his fourth score of the game early in the fourth on a four-yard run, before a late eight-yard touchdown run from Russell brought the Barons back to within 14 points.

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Newport Harbor will look to keep its undefeated season alive when it travels to Huntington Beach (1-5, 0-1 in league) on Oct. 11.

Sunset League

Newport Harbor 38, Fountain Valley 24

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Fountain Valley 7 – 0 – 10 – 7 — 24

Newport Harbor 7 – 10 – 14 – 7 — 38

FIRST QUARTER

NH – McCoy 55 run (Starnes kick), 5:50.

FV – Anderson 50 pass from Russell (Martinez kick), 2:16.

SECOND QUARTER

NH – Muro 20 pass from Kim (Tankersley kick), 11:53.

NH – Starnes 30 FG, 0:00.

THIRD QUARTER

FV – Martinez 31 FG, 8:17.

NH – McCoy 45 run (Tankersley kick), 7:15.

FV – Salazar 4 run (Martinez kick), 3:46.

NH – McCoy 16 run (Starnes kick), 0:50.

FOURTH QUARTER

NH – McCoy 4 run (Tankersley kick), 11:10.

FV – Russell 8 run (Martinez kick), 4:22.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

FV – Russell, 6-54, 1 TD.

NH – McCoy, 15-165, 4 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

FV – Russell, 17-30-1, 216, 1 TD.

NH – Kim, 25-33-1, 247, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

FV – Andersen, 12-175, 1 TD.

NH – Goltz, 8-122.

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