Youth football in the Newport-Mesa area continues to be strong.
The Newport Beach Seahawks put together a pair of undefeated regular seasons in AAU football at the 14-and-under (varsity) and 12-and-under (junior varsity) levels, earning the top seed heading into the Western Division playoffs.
Aaron Merriman, the head coach of the 14-and-under team, has won 31 games in a row. Newport Beach (8-0) will open the playoffs against the No. 8 Los Angeles Jaguars (2-6) on Saturday. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. at Los Angeles Maya Angelou High.
The Seahawks have a prolific offense that averages 45.9 points per game.
“We pass way more than the other teams,” Merriman said. “When you look at the standings, we’ve put up almost 200 more points than the No. 2 seed.”
Cameron Harty and David Rasor have both seen time at quarterback, throwing to weapons like six-footer Jose Frutos and the speedy Pierce Tanghall.
Two-way linemen Mark Lutke and Brady Sarkisian, as well as middle linebacker Trenton Merriman have been with their head coach for the duration of the 31-game winning streak. Lineman Eric Angel has also played with Aaron Merriman’s Seahawks for the past three seasons.
After winning an Orange County Junior All-American Football Super Bowl at the Midget level last season, Mike Salmon started over with a 12-and-under team. The Newport Coast resident, who formerly played defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers and the Buffalo Bills, coaches the defense.
Former All-County quarterback Danny Lane (Laguna Beach) oversees an offense that has produced 37 points per game.
Wide receiver Russell Weir received high praise from Salmon, who compared Weir to Corona del Mar standout and Seahawks alumnus John Humphreys.
“This kid catches everything,” Salmon said. “He outjumps everybody. It doesn’t matter how many people are going up for the ball, he comes down with it every time.”
Salmon added that Kaleb Annett is cut from a similar cloth, making it difficult for defenses to key in on any of the Seahawks’ receivers.
Interior linemen Luke Webb, Jacob Bouda and Cameron DeNoon, along with hard-hitting linebacker Christian Brooks, give the Seahawks a ferocious front seven in their 5-2 defense.
“I think they’re as good as anyone in the entire league,” Salmon said of the interior linemen. “All three of them are very big. They’re very strong and very physical.If anyone tries to run at them on offense, good luck. They just smash everything.”
The Seahawks’ 12U team (8-0) will travel to Downey Warren High to face the Los Angeles Jaguars (2-6) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.