He's all the 'buzz' at Newport

When you introduce yourself as "Buzzy," what do you expect?

Buzzy Yokoyama looks for the grin and then the usual reaction to his unique first name.

"Is that your real name?" Yokoyama said is the first thing most people say.

"I like it, so whatever."

Yokoyama's mother, Colleen, felt the same way when she told her father that her second youngest child would bear the name "Buzzy."

Colleen and Jeff wanted to name their boy after Jeff's good friend, Buzzy Kerbox, the famous surfer Jeff once sponsored. The name Buzzy did not sound right to Buzzy's grandpa, John Lloyd.

"My grandpa is like, 'You should name him William Buzzy if he wants to be successful,' " Yokoyama said of what he later learned through his mother. "My mom's like, 'He could be successful. If he's that successful, he'll have any name he wants.' "

Yokoyama has sure made a name for himself as the star running back at Newport Harbor High (2-0), ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division.

The junior does not surf anymore, but as the surfer with whom he shares the first name, Yokoyama is riding high into the Battle of the Bay tonight against Corona del Mar (3-0) at 7. Tickets for the game have sold out.

In his second start in the backfield, Yokoyama created waves on the football field last week in the Sailors' 35-28 victory against Loyola of Los Angeles. He recorded 294 yards on 35 carries, tying him for fourth all-time at Newport Harbor when it comes to single-game rushing performances.

The last tailback at Newport Harbor to hit the 294-yard mark on the ground wore the same number as Yokoyama. No. 2 means a lot to Yokoyama. The number represents more than a jersey.

Eleven years ago, Andre Stewart sported No. 2. It was a magical season in which he not only rushed for 294 yards in a playoff game, but in a regular-season game, he set the school record for rushing yards with 310.

The Sailors went on to win the Division VI title in 1999, going 13-0-1. The school year ended tragically for Stewart, who died in a car accident.

Out of respect for Stewart, Coach Jeff Brinkley said no Sailor asked for No. 2 until linebacker Cecil Whiteside did before he graduated last season.

Yokoyama, aware of Stewart's major contributions to Newport Harbor's program, wanted No. 2. When the sheet came around asking players what number they preferred to wear for the upcoming season, Yokoyama jotted down No. 2 as his first choice.

"It's like the best number in the program because of the guys who have worn it," said Yokoyama of Stewart and Whiteside, who earned All-CIF Southern Section honors during their time at Newport Harbor.

"It's just an honor to wear that number because [Stewart] was such a great player."

Yokoyama said he does not know how he was able to snag No. 2. He has run away with it.

Brinkley said Yokoyama's running style is different from Stewart, who used speed and moves to break off big gains and rush for a school-record 2,402 yards in 1999.

One thing Brinkley gets out Yokoyama is a back that will run hard every time. He needed one after Cedric Whitaker did not return to the program after rushing for 1,003 yards and totaling 12 touchdowns last season.

Yokoyama's build is deceiving. He's 5-foot-9, 198 pounds, not tall, but well put together.

"He's a little heavier than most people think," said Brinkley, who admires Yokoyama's toughness.

Yokoyama runs with an attitude reserved for boxers who are unafraid to mix it up. Instead of going out of bounds or going down after one hit, Yokoyama fights for extra yards and the first down.

Yokoyama showed how difficult he is to bring down last week. The three rushing touchdowns he scored from 44, 26 and 17 yards out, all in the second half, defenders bounced off him, and some let go of him after Yokoyama stiff-armed them away.

Yokoyama is relentless and he says it's all in his mind. He learned to give his best effort every time from Woody, a former Newport Harbor football player and one of Yokoyama's three siblings. Yokoyama is not the only one in the family with a unique name.

Beside Buzzy and Woody, there is Coco. With those kinds of names, all three deserve special introductions.

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