For the last two seasons, the Newport Harbor High football team has had an unquestioned leader in its receiving corps.
A proactive search for players on campus netted the team Aidan Goltz. Upon his hiring two years ago, Sailors coach Peter Lofthouse met Newport Harbor boys’ lacrosse coach Mark Todd, which led to the discovery of the standout receiver.
“We established a great rapport, a relationship and friendship, and he was telling me about some of the athletes he had on his lacrosse team that he thought would be good football players,” Lofthouse said. “He started pointing kids out. I remember Aidan running by, and I [exclaimed], ‘Who the heck is that?’”
Goltz had not played football at the varsity level, but Lofthouse was intrigued. He wanted to know if the physical athlete he had seen at practice would be interested in picking up football again.
“I was like, ‘Well, I think you could be a hell of a football player, so why don’t you come and play for us,’” Lofthouse said he remembers asking Goltz, who had played freshman football but didn’t come out for the sport his sophomore year. “Ever since then, he’s been an amazingly gifted athlete. He’s a tremendous football player for us.”
In two seasons of varsity football, Goltz has established himself as a model of consistency. He has never missed a game, averaging roughly six catches for 77.1 yards per game for his career.
This season, Goltz has amassed 67 catches for 814 yards and four touchdowns. He is coming off his second-biggest line of the year, a nine-catch, 100-yard effort that included a 35-yard touchdown grab in Newport Harbor’s 24-20 win over No. 3-seeded Monrovia in a CIF Southern Section Division 9 quarterfinal on Nov. 15 at Davidson Field.
While the production has remained the same for Goltz, it has been a tale of two seasons from a team perspective.
Newport Harbor went 3-6-1 under Lofthouse in his first season at the helm. The Sailors won their first seven games to start this year.
“We would all go into … our classes and just hear, ‘Oh, Newport football is back,’” Goltz said. “That definitely was a motivation for those first seven weeks because we put in all that work during the offseason, so it felt good to finally get recognized for it.”
Above the doorway to the Newport Harbor weight room, a series of quotes have been painted on the wall. The last says, “How do you want to be remembered?”
It has been a fitting quote, one that Lofthouse says he borrowed from former Sailors coach Jeff Brinkley.
“I’m enjoying this season,” Goltz said. “I’m having loads of fun. The guys are fun to be with every single day.
“The actual football part of it, I couldn’t be happier with it. I could not be [happier] with it because we’ve come out on top in some pretty close games. We made our goal, which was to get to playoffs.”
Newport Harbor, which plays at No. 2 Palmdale Highland in a semifinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m., could have had its season go in a dramatically different direction. The Sailors have mounted several comebacks in the fourth quarter. They have scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of both playoff wins — against Long Beach St. Anthony and Monrovia.
“From a morale standpoint, it’s always a great feeling when you can get the ball late in the game and you’re confident that you can drive down and score,” Lofthouse said. “Fourth-quarter comeback wins, we’ve had a lot more than I prefer to have in a single season, but you know what, I’ll take a win any way we can get it.”
The presence of Goltz on the outside has drawn defenders away from the box, allowing junior running back Justin McCoy to step into the spotlight. He has 19 rushing touchdowns this season.
Quarterback Nick Kim, a sophomore transfer from JSerra, notes that Goltz is a tough runner after the catch himself.
“Just his physical strength,” Kim said of what stands out about the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Goltz. “He’s very athletic, and he’s very fast, but I think he just overpowers smaller-sized defenders.
“I haven’t seen him get jammed [at the line of scrimmage] once all year. He’s very talented. He’s a big asset to this team.”
“We established a great rapport, a relationship and friendship, and [Mark Todd] was telling me about some of the athletes he had on his lacrosse team that he thought would be good football players. He started pointing kids out. I remember Aidan running by, and I [exclaimed], ‘Who the heck is that?’”
Goltz also gave praise to Cole Lavin, who began the season as the team’s starting quarterback. The junior has played various positions since returning from a knee injury.
“Cole is just an athlete,” Goltz said. “There are a ton of spots on the field where we can use Cole, so we kind of just made him into a Taysom Hill and just put him everywhere — like defensive end, linebacker, receiver, quarterback, everywhere we can.”
Goltz participated in a signing day ceremony on Nov. 13 at Newport Harbor, where he signed a national letter of intent to play for the Bryant University men’s lacrosse program. The senior believes that football and lacrosse form the perfect marriage of two sports that complement each other.
“With lacrosse, you will get faster, you will be able to cut faster and stuff,” Goltz said. “Football, all-around, makes you tougher and stronger. All those things are needed in both sports. That’s probably my best combination of two sports I could do.”
Born: May 24, 2002
Hometown: Newport Beach
Height: 6 feet 2
Weight: 200 pounds
Coach: Peter Lofthouse
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “The Waterboy”
Favorite athletic moment: Goltz helped Newport Harbor defeat rival Corona del Mar 5-4 in the Battle of the Bay boys’ lacrosse match last season. It marked the first time that he had beaten the Sea Kings in either football or lacrosse.
Week in review: The wide receiver caught nine passes for 100 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass from Nick Kim in Newport Harbor’s 24-20 win over Monrovia in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 quarterfinals on Nov. 15.
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.