Virgen: NHHS alumni a lot of fun

When it comes to Newport Harbor High football there are great, meaningful traditions. There seems to have been another one added this season.

When the Sailors score on the south end zone at Davidson Field, some fun ensues because that's where the Newport Harbor Football Alumni Assn. hangs out. So it's cool for the Newport Harbor players to show the alumni some love.

Quest Truxton did it. After he scored against Fountain Valley in the Sailors' homecoming win Oct. 25, he went and celebrated with alumni.

"It brings a great electricity to the game," Truxton said of the alumni's presence at Newport Harbor home games. "Everyone wants to score in front of them, get them erupting. They bring a lot of momentum to the game. I just love them."

Truxton will soon become one of them. He played his final game for Newport Harbor Saturday at Angel Stadium. Some alumni was there. They would say it was a great season with a rough ending.

The Sailors fell, 42-28, to Huntington Beach in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship game. The score was tied, 21-21, at halftime, but the Oilers pulled away in the second half led by Kai Ross, who threw three touchdown passes and intercepted two passes for touchdowns.

The alumni will continue to support the Sailors' program. Having the Newport Harbor Football Alumni Assn. helps.

The group, started by Alan Gaddis and Clarke Smith a year ago, encourages more alumni to attend the games or come to the tailgate parties.

It's a family type atmosphere for each home game, at the parties and behind the south end zone. When they ask each other, "How are you doing?" they're not just showing good manners. They geninuely care for each other and want to know what's really going on.

There are hugs and kisses exchanged.

"It really is like a family," said Kirk Norton, Class of 1981. "Everyone rallies for the community and cares for each other. It's amazing."

Gaddis and Smith are happy they helped start the alumni group that shows up at the home games. They each have players in the program, Riley, Gaddis' son, and Cole, Smith's son.

They also played at Newport Harbor.

"It's been really cool to see the alumni show up to each game," Gaddis said Nov. 29 when the Sailors beat Fullerton in the Southwest Division semifinals at Davidson Field.

Gaddis has seen the alumni group shoot up to around 400 people who have shown up to watch the games.

They enjoy each other. But they also enjoy cheering for the Newport Harbor players and providing motivation.

The players have also connected to the alumni.

"They're doing a great job," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said Monday at the annual CIF Southern Section Football Championships luncheon. "Alan Gaddis and Clarke Smith really ran with it. They reached out to a lot of guys who weren't contacted before. You get the word out and it starts spreading. It's great to see and it's great to reconnect with the former players."

The alumni also helped with a tradition before the big win over Fullerton.

Several alumni attended the practice Thanksgiving morning, a day before the game, and many of them spoke to the players.

"It's always a big day for us," Brinkley said of the Thanksgiving practice. "It's a very emotional time."

The alumni group can be very serious during that time. But overall they are a fun family.

They talk about their lives and they talk about the past, a great past with so many memorable moments and talented players.

Gaddis, like most of the alumni, smile when they think back. They all proud to be a part of the Long Grey Line.

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