NEWPORT BEACH — Newport Harbor High has a week to work out the kinks before it opens the football season at Trabuco Hills on Sept. 8.
The Sailors saw live action against someone other than themselves for the first time. They held a scrimmage against JSerra Thursday night at Davidson Field.
The Sailors, out of the Sunset League, and the Lions from the Trinity League played physical ball. For each quarterback's sake, they wore red vests over their jerseys, protecting them from any contact.
JSerra's Jake Hall, a Newport Beach resident, is the more talked about quarterback. But Newport Harbor's Cole Blower outshined the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Hall, who has Nevada, Arizona State, Oregon State, San Diego State and Maryland recruiting him.
Blower looked sharp in the Sailors' first offensive series. The senior connected on four straight passes, the biggest a 55-yard touchdown hookup with fullback Grant Frazier.
On play action, Blower hit Frazier on a short pass to the right and then the senior broke away down the JSerra sideline. He can thank senior tight end Vince Aqueveque for delivering a devastating block, allowing Frazier to race into the end zone.
The play turned out to be the first of two in which players turned a short pass from Blower into a long score.
The second one involved some moves by Landon Gyulay to escape would-be tacklers. The junior wide receiver turned it up field before shaking off defenders by cutting inside for a 70-yard touchdown.
"He played good," said Brinkley of Blower, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, his only mistake was an interception. "He had a little bit of action last [year], but it's really the first time he's been the guy."
While the Sailors' passing game excelled, the ground game did not.
JSerra slowed down the three senior running backs Newport Harbor is using after Buzzy Yokoyama transferred to Mission Viejo High for his senior year.
Ethan Cochran, Titus Hasson and AJ Swies combined for 36 yards on 15 carries. The trio has a lot of work to do if it expects Newport Harbor fans to forget about Yokoyama, a first-team all-league performer, who rushed for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
"A couple of them, it's the first time they've really carried the ball much," said Brinkley, referring to Cochran and Hasson, who last year started at outside linebacker and safety, respectively. "We'll get better."
AJ Swies got the first look out of the backfield and his longest gain went for five yards. That was the longest run for the backs.
JSerra's running game produced a couple of long runs. When the Lions went to the air, Newport Harbor standout defensive end Steve Michaelsen created issues for Hall.
The 6-5, 240-pound senior used his height to bat down passes. Hall completed only seven of 15 passes for 114 yards and finished without a touchdown.
"He's always had a great pass rush," Brinkley said of Michaelsen, who has offers from Air Force and Army.