Newport Harbor High certainly hoped that its first football season under new head coach Peter Lofthouse would start out better than the last one.
The Sailors lost their first eight games of 2017, but they need not worry about that this year.
Going back to last season, Newport Harbor has now won three games in a row. The Sailors defeated visiting Redwood City Sequoia 30-13 on Friday night to the delight of a sizable crowd at Davidson Field.
Junior wide receiver Aidan Goltz had four catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He opened the scoring on a gadget play, as senior running back Colin Gregg received a lateral and fired deep to Goltz for a 58-yard score.
“We just wanted to see if they would bite on the little screen pass, and they did, so we decided to run a little trick play, and it worked out,” Goltz said of his touchdown coming just 90 seconds into the game.
Clay Liolios’ tenure as the Sailors’ starting quarterback got off to an ominous beginning. The junior had two of his first four passes intercepted.
The first turnover came as he was targeting Chase Greer down the left side on a deep route. The second wound up in the hands of Cherokee free safety Jordan Barnes.
Liolios rebounded in the second quarter, connecting with Goltz on a deep pass to the front right pylon for a 33-yard touchdown. That established a 16-0 lead for the Sailors that they took into halftime.
Goltz’s ability to come down with the ball should inspire confidence in the Sailors’ quarterbacks, whether it’s Liolios or Rory McCrory. Both received in-game reps.
“I really wasn’t surprised that Aidan had a good night,” Lofthouse said. “I believe in the kid immensely, and I think as long as he stays healthy and keeps trying to improve, those kind of games will happen more times than not.”
The second quarter was not all good news for the Sailors, however. Gregg came off the field with an apparent left knee injury at the 8:09 mark, and he did not return to the game.
“It was a little too much pain, so they couldn’t really get a good assessment on the field, but they sent him to the doctors to get it checked out,” Lofthouse said. “Hopefully, we’ll be getting some results tomorrow, but I’m not sure right now. It’s up in the air.”
Sequoia got on the board thanks to a big play by its defense. John Vaka intercepted McCrory, returning the pass 32 yards to the Sailors’ 28. On the next play, Jesse Carthy found the left end and sprinted in for the touchdown.
Lofthouse said he was pleased with the way his defense rallied to the football against the triple-option of the Cherokee. Linebackers Jack Phillips and Chad Koste and defensive lineman Connor Spence made multiple tackles in the backfield.
Jake Keliikoa and Zach Warren each had second-half rushing touchdowns for Newport Harbor.
On special teams, Richard Lemmon placed two punts inside the Sequoia 10.
Lemmon was less fortunate with his final punt of the night. It took a Cherokee bounce and rolled back into the Newport Harbor end zone, where it was jumped on by McKinley Desbrisay for a touchdown.
Perhaps motivated by the previous punt, Lemmon broke off a 23-yard run on the final play run by the Sailors. It was the longest run for Newport Harbor in the game.
“It just kind of happened,” Lemmon said. “The game was kind of crazy. Going off of last year, we didn’t do so great. I’m still in shock after that win and how hyped this whole thing is with this whole program.
“We’re all brothers now. We’re looking forward to a great season over here at Newport.”
Newport Harbor 30, Redwood City Sequoia 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sequoia 0 – 0 – 6 – 7 — 13
Newport Harbor 9 – 7 – 7 – 7 — 30
NH – Goltz 58 pass from Gregg (Starnes kick), 10:30.
NH – Safety on a (holding penalty in end zone), 5:55.
NH – Goltz 33 pass from Liolios (Starnes kick), 7:34.
NH – Keliikoa 11 run (Starnes kick), 6:30.
S – Carthy 28 run (Reeves kick failed), 0:03.
NH – Warren 1 run (Starnes kick), 6:55.
S – Desbrisay punt recovered in end zone (Reeves kick), 1:45.
S – Carthy, 9-34, 1 TD.
NH – Gregg, 7-36; Keliikoa, 7-28, 1 TD.
S – Anaya, 1-3-0, 1.
NH – Liolios, 15-22-2, 155, 1 TD.
S – Tarzon, 1-1.