High Schools: Brinkley's 250th win will have to wait

Career win No. 250 as a high school football coach seemed to be in Jeff Brinkley's grasp last Friday.

The number is a major milestone in the high school coaching ranks. Only 22 men have won that many high school football games in the state.

Brinkley, in his 35th year as a high school coach, appeared to be joining that elite group.

He was a little more than nine minutes away last Friday.

Three minutes into the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs, his Newport Harbor High team led Villa Park by two scores. Getting win No. 250 would've been special in this situation.

A victory assured Brinkley his 10th semifinal appearance with the Sailors. Most of his triumphs have come in the 27 years as the leader of Newport Harbor.

Brinkley will have to wait until next year for a shot at his 250th career win.

A stunned 60-year-old Brinkley watched third-seeded Villa Park rally from a nine-point deficit. The Spartans scored two touchdowns late to win, 26-21, ruining Brinkley and his team's night.

Win No. 250 will come for Brinkley, who said he has a career overall record of 249-146-7. He always credits the success to the many good coaches and good players he has coached with or coached.

When a season ends in the fashion that it did last week, Brinkley said he feels bad for the seniors on the team. It was seniors like Landon Gyulay, a standout wide receiver and cornerback, who wanted to get Brinkley his 250th career victory before graduating from Newport Harbor (7-5).

"The kids played great this season," said Brinkley, whose team reached the quarterfinals for the first time in five years, posted its first seven-win season in four years, and finished with its best Sunset League record (4-1) in 35 years.

"I don't think there was anybody that was dealt more adversity than these guys and they battled throughout it."


The season for the Sage Hill School girls' volleyball team ended Saturday. Coach Dan Thomassen hinted it might that night.

Another five-set thriller against rival St. Margaret's in a CIF Southern Section title match wasn't enough for Sage Hill to earn a berth into the CIF State Southern California Regional playoffs. A win by the Lightning and Thomassen is still coaching and his players are still playing this late in the season.

But the Tartans won this year's Division 3-A crown, 25-20, 25-22, 11-25, 17-25, 15-8, at Cypress College, making sure Sage Hill didn't beat them in a section championship for the second straight season.

The Lightning almost roared back to knock off St. Margaret's again. After losing the first two sets, Sage Hill responded, taking the third and fourth sets to force a decisive fifth set.

In a fifth set, anything can happen. Third-seeded Sage Hill was that close to defeating top-seeded St. Margaret's for the first time this year.

Maggie Danner rallied the Lightning late, producing 23 kills, 10 digs and three blocks. The fifth set just didn't go Sage Hill's way as it did last year in the Division 4-AA finale against the Tartans.

St. Margaret's claimed its second title in three years, and sixth overall. This one meant a lot, because for the first time, the Tartans topped Sage Hill in a section championship.

The previous two times the private schools met in section finales, last year and in 2005, Thomassen led the Lightning to victories.

With the recent title going to St. Margaret's (26-3), it gets to play in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division III playoffs. Sage Hill (21-6) does not.


Out of the 1,949 runners expected to compete at the CIF State cross country finals this Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno, only one will be from a Newport-Mesa school.

Paige Tennison, a Newport Harbor senior, advanced to state. She won the CIF Southern Section Division II girls' race at Mt. San Antonio College with a time of 16 minutes 13 seconds on Saturday.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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