Newport Harbor football defeats Huntington Beach on senior night
There was a common theme during the Newport Harbor High School football game against Huntington Beach.
“We didn’t even know we were going to have a season,” Newport Harbor head coach Peter Lofthouse said. “For these seniors to get — in this shortened season — every game, means a lot. Anytime you can have your seniors end their final home game as a win, that’s great.”
With a core group of sophomores and juniors on senior night, Newport Harbor dispatched Huntington Beach 33-14 at Davidson Field on Friday in the 90th football game played between the two schools.
Both teams approached the game with a plan of passing the football. Newport Harbor’s Nick Kim targeted Kashton Henjum nine times in the first half for 130 yards. Henjum scored on a 22-yard touchdown catch for a 13-0 first-quarter lead. His lone blemish was a fumble after a two-yard reception, but the Sailors (2-3, 2-2 in the Sunset League) got the ball back on the very next play after a Huntington Beach fumble of its own.
After Newport Harbor broke out to a 20-0 lead on three Kim passing touchdowns — the third being a 67-yard catch-and-run by Josiah Lamarque — Huntington Beach began to climb back into the game.
The Oilers (2-3, 1-3 in the Sunset League), who were led by senior quarterback Joey Gentilella, got the game to 20-14 by the end of the third quarter. But Gentilella threw two interceptions, his offense had a fumble, and Huntington Beach’s junior quarterback AJ Perez threw a late interception, dashing the Oilers’ hopes.
“Tonight was one of those games that kind of had that ‘bend but don’t break’ kind of feel to it,” Lofthouse said of the defense. “Their quarterback was very athletic, was able to extend plays and really give [them] chances. I was really proud of how our defense did.”
Meanwhile, Kim and the Sailors turned things around with the run game.
“I thought he was very strong,” Lofthouse said. “I think early, he definitely threw some beautiful balls to Kashton Henjum in the one-on-ones. Kashton went up and made some really good plays for us. As the game evolved, they started taking that away, and [Kim] had to use his feet to make some movement in the pocket and extend plays, and he found some really big opportunities for us to make those big plays and turn the game around in the second half.”
Newport Harbor was without its star running back senior Justin McCoy, who took a first-quarter snap to commemorate his senior day before sitting out the rest of the game with soreness. In his place, sophomore Payton Irving stepped up.
“I didn’t know until the first play, they were like ‘Hey, McCoy’s out. You’re in for the rest of the game,’” Irving said.
Irving had 13 touches for 25 yards and a touchdown while making five catches for 43 yards.
“Payton was really strong between the tackles,” Lofthouse said. “He got some good runs there in the second half. We were able to get him a few creases where he really showed his ability getting downhill. That shows a bright future for us.”
Irving cramped up, and once again, the next man was up. This time it was Hayden Farley, who took five straight touches leading up to a four-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I was really happy with Hayden … he showed some really good things,” Lofthouse said. “Next year, we’ve got two backs that we’re really excited about.”
First, the Sailors will focus on next week, when they take on Los Alamitos in their final game of the revised 2021 spring season. For the Oilers, a matchup with fellow Huntington Beach school Edison awaits them next Friday.
“They put in so much for us,” Irving said of the seniors. “We were in at 6 a.m. all of quarantine, working as hard as we could. All they have wanted was this. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Newport Harbor 33, Huntington Beach 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 13 – 7 – 0– 13 – 33
Huntington Beach 0 – 7 – 7 – 0 – 14
NH — Knipp 12 pass from Kim (Tankersley kick), 7:19.
NH — Henjum 22 pass from Kim (Tankersley kick failed), 2:51.
NH — Lamarque 67 pass from Kim (Tankersley kick), 10:22.
HB – Del Rosario 4 pass from Gentilella (Othman kick), 8:18.
HB — Del Rosario 28 pass from Gentilella (Othman kick), 2:02.
NH — Irving 4 rush (2-pt attempt failed), 10:03.
NH — Farley 4 rush (Tankersley kick), 5:00.
NH – Irving, 13-25, 1 TD.
HB – Moses, 2-31.
NH – Kim, 25-32-0, 386, 3 TDs
HB – Gentilella, 13-19-2, 194, 2 TDs.
NH – Henjum, 10-182, 1 TD.
HB – Ray, 9-137.
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