Highlanders stunned by Newport Harbor in Southwest quarterfinals
by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal
The top-ranked La Habra Highlanders were upset, 49-48, by the Newport Harbor Sailors in the second round of the CIF-SS Southwest Division playoffs, Friday night at Newport Harbor High School.
The Highlanders defense couldn’t contain the Sailors’ aerial attack on offense. Junior quarterback Cole Norris completed 38-of-62 passes for 486 yards and five touchdowns.
“No matter who you are, you cannot go out there, give up 49 points and expect to win,” said La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta.
Right from the beginning, Norris established senior Quest Truxton as his go-to target. The Sailors jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, on three touchdowns connections by the pair. The early connections were for 14, 11 and 14 yards.
Truxton finished the game with 16 catches for 248 yards and four touchdowns.
The fourth touchdown between the two was the game-winning score.
With 50 seconds left Norris dropped back and lobbed a pass over the hands of La Habra defensive back, Elijah Carter’s hands. Truxton jumped up, caught the ball and kept both feet in bounds from 16 yards out.
La Habra managed to wake up and finish the first half on a 21-7 run. Eric Barriere overcame a slow start and began to settle into his groove. He opened the scoring for La Habra with a two-yard touchdown run.
Norris hit Cory Stowell on the next drive for a 15-yard score. Stowell had 11 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown on the night.
Before the half ended, Sebastian Salinas scored on a 34-yard run and Carlos Martin scored from 10 yards out.
On their first drive of the second half, La Habra tied the game at 28-28 on a 67-yard scramble by Barriere. It appeared that all the momentum was in the Highlanders’ favor.
The Sailors answered with a 1-yard run by Trevor Shaw, to regain the lead at 35-28. The lead did not last long and the Highlanders were able to answer on their next possession.
Barriere hit Elijah Carter deep down the sideline for a 53-yard score. Just over two minutes into the fourth, La Habra took their first lead of the game, 42-35, on a 62-yard run by Martin.
Once again, Newport Harbor answered right back and scored on a two yard run by Chance Siemonsma.
With 2:07 left, the Highlanders scored to regain the lead on a 48-yard pass from Barriere to Martin. The two both had great offensive games for the Highlanders. Barriere threw for 253 yards and two touchdown passes, while running for 152 and two more touchdowns.
Martin ran the ball 18 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns and also had 48 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Newport Harbor (7-5) will take on Fullerton next week in the CIF semi-finals.
It’s the second consecutive year that La Habra has been knocked out in the quarterfinals. The Highlanders finished with a record of 10-2.