Cory Stowell wears No. 5 for a reason.
"I like to think that I'm a handful," Stowell says.
In his senior year, Stowell has been a handful to deal with on the football field. He starts at wide receiver and cornerback for Newport Harbor High, making plays on both sides of the ball.
Fans might best remember Stowell from last year's Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Corona del Mar. He's the kid who came down with the game-winning touchdown catch on a fourth-and-goal call on the 22 with 24 seconds left.
Back then, the offense's third option at receiver won the game. Stowell has moved up in the pecking order this year, giving him more chances to be a difference maker.
When the game is on the line, quarterback Cole Norris trusts Stowell. He's the one who found Stowell in the end zone against CdM last year.
Norris went to Stowell late in last week's Sunset League opener. Stowell turned out to be his top target on the game's final play at Davidson Field.
Norris hit Stowell in stride on a 25-yard touchdown pass that clinched the Sailors' 27-24 overtime win against Los Alamitos. The Sailors edged the Griffins for the second straight year in overtime.
Defenses had better take note of Stowell. No longer can defenses leave him in single coverage. He will burn them.
And it doesn't even matter that Stowell beat Los Alamitos' defense on the same exact play for a touchdown right before halftime, because he will come through again. The Griffins learned the hard way after they zeroed in on receiver Quest Truxton on the Sailors' first chance on offense in overtime.
The Griffins took the lead after they converted a field goal. They lost it right away.
Newport Harbor lined up exactly how it did late in the first half, Truxton to the right, Stowell in the slot on the left. Both receivers ran post patterns the first time, almost at each other. The mix up nearly prevented the Sailors from taking their first lead, but Stowell grabbed Norris' 28-yard pass in traffic and scored.
The second time around, Truxton ran the correct route, to the corner. One safety followed in hopes to help the cornerback on Truxton, yet the play never went to Truxton. All along, Norris noticed the other safety playing 12 yards off Stowell.
Stowell made a double move on the safety, freezing him. With a couple of steps on the safety, all Norris needed was protection and the offensive line obliged. He connected with Stowell to win another game together.
"Norris just threw a perfect pass to me," says Stowell, who hauled it in, giving him seven catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The catch wasn't even Stowell's best of the evening. That belonged to one he made on defense early in the second quarter.
The pass Stowell picked off showed off his athleticism, hands and short memory. The intended receiver, Cameron Austin, had beaten Stowell a couple of times on the Griffins' first drive, once on a 39-yard pass and then on a nine-yard touchdown pass.
Forty-five seconds into the second quarter, Los Alamitos tried to pick on Stowell when it took over on its 25-yard line. On first down, the Griffins sent Austin deep, toward the Newport Harbor sideline. Stowell kept up with Austin stride for stride, and when quarterback Nick Wendell let the ball fly, all Stowell heard from his sideline was "Ball!"
"I knew the ball was coming to him, because his eyes kept opening up," Stowell says. "I knew I just had to stretch my hips and get my arms up. I read the ball perfectly and just made a good catch [while falling backward on the Sailors' 38]."
The Griffins challenged Stowell a second time in the second quarter. Once again, Austin ran a deep route. Once again, Stowell intercepted the pass.