As a 12-year-old, Kellon Truxton would sneak onto the Newport Harbor High sideline for football games. Truxton found the best excuse to be there for every game.
"I wasn't really the water boy, but I used that title to get down on the field," said Truxton, whose older brother, Louis, played on the Sailors' team five years ago, when Truxton was a seventh-grader. "I just got to go in the huddles and stuff.
"I'd go out at like halftime and throw the ball around and just be visualizing being on the field."
Truxton is no longer dreaming. He is a senior at Newport Harbor and he is contributing in a big way.
The two-way starter played a vital role to the Sailors' opening Sunset League play with a 28-6 win at home last week against Huntington Beach. Truxton turned in his best game of his career at a crucial time for Newport Harbor.
The Sailors ended a two-game losing skid with the help of Truxton. He intercepted two passes as a safety that led to Newport Harbor touchdowns. The second pick, Truxton did it all by himself, returning it 17 yards for a score.
As a wide receiver, Truxton hauled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Cole Blower. Truxton performed at a high level despite feeling more nervous before any game.
"It's like league and it started to really matter," Truxton said of the season. "It was a big game. We knew we had to beat Huntington and it was homecoming."
Truxton and his teammates partied after the Sailors improved to 4-1 in their last five Sunset League openers.
The start to league gives Newport Harbor (4-2, 1-0 in league) momentum heading into tonight's league showdown against Los Alamitos (4-2, 1-0) at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. The game kicks off at 7 and it is the start of two straight league games on the road for the Sailors.
After playing Los Alamitos, Newport Harbor the following week faces defending league champion Edison, a team it last beat 31 years ago. Truxton does not want to look past the Griffins, who have lost three straight league games against the Sailors. He understands what is at stake against the Griffins and Chargers.
"It's the next two games that we need to win," Truxton said. "Whoever wins those will likely win league."
Truxton said the Sailors are not the favorites in league despite having a legit shot to claim their second league crown in three seasons.
Truxton does not know why they have the underdog tag with the success the Sailors have achieved under Coach Jeff Brinkley, 206 victories, three CIF Southern Section titles and six league titles since 1986. As a kid, Truxton watched his brother Louis, a center, pave the way in 2005 to the Sailors' last section championship, which came in Division VI.
The role as underdog, which has been the case for Newport Harbor since it rejoined the Sunset League four years ago, is one Truxton likes.
"It's better when you win," Truxton said.
Winning motivates Truxton. He is a winner in the classroom, saying he has straight A's.
A section title ring is all that is missing. Truxton said Louis shows off the ring he won with the Sailors.
Truxton plans to follow in his brother's footsteps, going to UC Irvine after Newport Harbor. If he cannot earn a CIF ring like Louis, winning a league title like his brother did might be just good enough.