Now in his fifth decade as a high school football head coach, Jeff Brinkley embraces loyalty as enthusiastically as he relishes achievement on the field.
The assertion that the former has increased the latter, particularly during 25-plus seasons at the helm of the Newport Harbor High Sailors, is beyond doubt.
Loyalty will be a prominent theme Saturday night, when friends, former players, and supporters of the program gather to celebrate Brinkley's first 25 seasons as the Sailors' coach.
The bottom line, in this case proceeds generated from tickets priced at $100 per person and $150 per couple, will benefit the Newport Harbor football program. (A Facebook page has been created)
But it is Brinkley's contributions, as the poster advertising the event says "on and off the NHHS gridiron," that have provided the well of memories that will be tapped deep into the evening at the Balboa Pavilion.
Entering his 301st game as the Sailors head man Friday against Loyola of Los Angeles, Brinkley has amassed a 208-89-3 record that includes CIF Southern Section championships in 1994, 1999 and 2005. By far the Newport-Mesa area's winningest football coach, Brinkley's Newport Harbor teams have advanced to the postseason 19 times.
In addition to the three CIF championships, the Tars reached the division title game in 2004, 2000, 1996 and 1992. Brinkley's first 25 Sailors teams averaged 8.3 victories and posted a winning percentage of .698.
With a legacy that puts him among the elite coaches not only in Orange County, but in Southern California, Brinkley's career is chock full of milestones.
Here are those deemed by the Daily Pilot to be his top five.
1 – The 1994 Sailors capped a 14-0 campaign with a 20-15 win over Servite in the CIF Southern Section Division V title game at Orange Coast College.
The five-game Sea View League schedule included three wins — over Corona del Mar, Irvine and Santa Margarita — by a combined six points and the Tars overcame Canyon, 21-19, in their biggest nonleague scare.
The playoffs opened with a 28-14 home triumph over Saddleback, then the Sailors took to the road for a 24-8 quarterfinal win at Brea Olinda and a 13-10 overtime thriller over Foothill at Tustin High.
In the title game, touchdown runs by CIF Division V Player of the Year Brian Johnson, the tailback, and quarterback John Giordani created a 14-9 lead.
Servite battled back to claim a 15-14 lead with 4:08 remaining but Giordani threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Freeman for the game-winning score with 2:37 left.
In addition to Johnson, Freeman, Dan McDonough, Jack Hogan and Sherif Pepic earned All-CIF laurels and Bill Johns was the Newport-Mesa Dream Team and Defensive Player of the Year.
Giordani was named Sea View League Offensive Player of the Year and was joined by the aforementioned honorees, as well as Matt Riggle, Scott Sandstrom, Jon Benzinger, Danny Pulido, Brandon Baker and James Moreaux on the Dream Team.
It remains the only 14-0 season ever posted by a Newport-Mesa school.
2 – A dramatic 19-18 win over Sea View League rival Irvine in the CIF Division VI title game at Orange Coast College gave the program its second section crown to cap a 13-0-1 season.
Irvine took a 12-0 lead and sacked Newport Harbor quarterback Chris Manderino eight times.