NEWPORT BEACH — Jeff Brinkley has coached many high school football games during his 36 years. Twenty-eight of those have been spent at Newport Harbor, where he has guided several kids with the same last name, just in different years.
It was fitting that on a Thursday night Brinkley won his 250th career game as a coach he did so because of two familiar family names.
Quest Truxton and Brett Beaudette, whose brothers played for Brinkley in the past, came through down the stretch for the Sailors. They made plays, allowing Newport Harbor to come back in the final minute to upset Palos Verdes, 34-33, in a home opener.
Family has been a big part of the Sailors' storied program since Brinkley arrived in 1986. He's 60 years old now, but he still enjoys his time coaching teenagers, especially the ones that grew up with the program and understand its tradition.
"You get all the family guys. You get the Truxtons and the Beaudettes," Brinkley said with a big smile.
Truxton and Beaudette made sure Brinkley joined an elite coaching group. Brinkley became the 23rd coach in California to win 250 games, 221 of those have come as Newport Harbor's leader.
"I'm just happy for these guys getting one win. That's really all it is. That's one win this year," Brinkley said. "The kids battled. They really battled."
The Sailors' rally last week fell short at Trabuco Hills. They weren't going to be denied at Davidson Field.
With the Sailors down, 33-28, with 70 seconds left, Truxton returned a kickoff 42 yards to set up the go-ahead scoring drive. A play later, the senior wide receiver made an unbelievable 32-yard catch near the sideline, giving him seven catches for 152 yards.
On the next play, quarterback Cole Norris went to another senior receiver, Cory Stowell, hitting him for a 20-yard gain. At the one, running back Riley Gaddis found the end zone to put Newport Harbor ahead with 45 seconds left.
The Sailors' two-point conversion try failed against Palos Verdes (1-2), the defending CIF Southern Section Northern Division champion. The Sea Kings needed just a field goal to win it.
With 16.3 seconds, Palos Verdes crossed midfield. That's where the offense stalled because of Beaudette. The junior sacked quarterback Daniel DiRocco on second down and then on third down.
Faced with a fourth-and-22 from their 41, the Sea Kings stood no chance. DiRocco, who threw two interceptions, completed one final pass and it came up way short of the first-down marker.
The Sailors (1-1), ranked No. 10 in the Southwest Division, rushed the field. Before Brinkley joined them, his quarterback stopped him. Norris, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 235 yards and second-half touchdown passes of 71 and 20 yards to Truxton, had a message for his coach.
"Congratulations on your 250th win!" Norris told Brinkley.
Brinkley wasn't sure if any of his players were aware of the coaching milestone he just reached.
"This career, counting when I was up in Norwalk [for eight years], I've been lucky to have a lot of good guys," said Brinkley, whose overall record is now 250-147-7.
Newport Harbor 34, Palos Verdes 33