Newport Harbor High senior Zach Wade will trigger the Sailors' offense at quarterback in 2012. (SCOTT SMELTZER, Daily Pilot / September 16, 2011)

"Hufford is going to be a Division I football player someday," said Brinkley, adding that the tackle protecting the quarterback's blindside is receiving many letters from colleges, including Nebraska and Colorado.

Cornwell looks to stay healthy after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Sailors' season opener last year.

The rest of the line includes junior T.J. Tarazevits, a 6-7, 313-pound left guard, and three players — senior Andrew Williams (6-0, 226), junior Joseph Zavala (5-7, 261) and senior Emmanuel Jogwe (6-2, 206) — are competing at center and right guard.

Defensive line: Inside is the Sailors' strength with Hufford and Cornwell returning as starters.

The 4-3 defense lost a standout in Steve Michaelsen to graduation. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound defensive end earned All-CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division and Dream Team honors, and a share of the Sunset League Defensive Lineman of the Year award.

Donovan Acadine, a 6-foot, 217-pound senior, will be an end, and seniors Armani Johnson (5-11, 200) and Christian Gutierrez (5-11, 180) are competing for the other end spot.

Linebackers: Taylor is back at middle linebacker. He received second-team all-league accolades last season.

The other linebackers are Team and Teaupa.

Secondary: Gone is Hasson, the Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year. He covered a lot of ground as a safety.

Gyulay returns at one of the cornerback spots and Wade as the strong safety.

Truxton is the other corner and Derek Kula, a senior, is the free safety.

"We obviously would like to keep [Wade] on one side of the ball, if possible," Brinkley said "In a perfect world, you get Kula [at strong safety] and Hall [at free safety] and don't have to play Zach [on defense]."

Special teams: The Sailors will miss Hasson on kickoffs as he averaged 32.3 yards per return.

Gyulay and Gaddis are the kickoff returners and Truxton the punt returner.

Sophomore Michael Schultz will kick and punt.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza