Beginning with the transfer of senior tailback Buzzy Yokoyama and culminating Thursday night at Davidson Field with seemingly more starters injured than playing in a humbling 35-7 defeat at the hands of the freshly-minted Sunset League champion Edison Chargers, the 2011 season has been a tumultuous one for Newport Harbor.
Nevertheless, the Sailors (5-5 overall, 3-2 in league) are headed back to the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.
On Sunday, the section office will announce first-round matchups for next weekend's start of the postseason, with Newport Harbor, the Sunset League's third seed, likely to square off with one of Southern California's powerhouse programs, likely a first-place finisher elsewhere. Edison (8-2, 5-0) will likely be paired with a third-place finisher, while Huntington Beach (7-3, 3-2), the No. 2 seed, likely to face another No. 2.
Regardless of how the pairings shake out, Sailors coach Jeff Brinkley has seen it all before.
"Whoever you play in this division is going to be a butt-kicking team," he said. "We've been there a few times now, and we know what it's like. We beat Notre Dame [of Sherman Oaks] up there [in 2008], then played [Long Beach] Poly the next week with Jurell Casey and those cats. Last year, it was Alemany [of Mission Hills], one year it was Lakewood, so, who knows?
"We're happy to be there. The kids did a great job going through the league and putting themselves in a position to make the playoffs."
Newport Harbor's 33-7 win over Fountain Valley on Oct. 14 turned out to be the key victory in 2011, important because the Sailors could do little against Edison Thursday with a chance to split the league title and force a coin-flip to decide playoff positioning.
Instead, Newport Harbor allowed Chargers senior quarterback Chase Favreau to dominate the contest, as he accounted for 356 of Edison's 411 yards and single-handedly outgained the Sailors by 215 yards.
Favreau, a 6-foot-2 duel-threat southpaw, opened the scoring with a 27-yard keeper, then, after Titus Hassan countered with an 80-yard kick return for the Sailors' lone touchdown, found a streaking Curren Provost in stride on a seam route for a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
Favreau made it 28-7 by halftime with two second-quarter scores, a 17-yard designed draw which came on the heels of 48-yard hook-up with Elijah Herrera with seven minutes left, and a 38-yard connection to Sedric Hill on a perfectly-placed throw six minutes later.
"It feels awesome," Favreau said. "It's a feeling you can't really describe, you kind of have to be out there. We worked hard. This team has a lot of heart. We pushed through, and we deserve this."
The Chargers notched the game's final score a minute into the second half on what could have easily been the signal-caller's fifth touchdown.
Favreau connected with Hill on a simple corner-out, but the shifty wideout broke a trio of tackles before racing up the sideline for an 80-yard gain that ended when Hill fumbled at the goal line. Connor Mase was Johnny-on-the-spot, however, and dove on the loose ball in the end zone for a hustle-play score, and a premature finish to the 2011 Sunset League proceedings.
Favreau finished the night with 256 yards through the air on 9-of-18 passing, to complement 100 yards on the ground in 13 carries.
"Tonight we passed it a little more than we usually do," he said. "Our receivers are all good, and the O-line had a hell of a game, so we definitely had a good passing game."
Newport Harbor, which played without injured seniors Grant Frazier, Cory Cablay and Ethan Cochran, managed only three first downs with their first-team unit before Talalelei Teaupa (six carries, 40 yards) sparked a drive on the Sailors' final possession, which ended at Edison's one as time expired.
Cole Blower was sacked six times -- thrice by Nick Covelli -- and passed for 66 yards, the bulk coming on one play, a 32-yard connection with Landon Gyulay, one of only two first-downs the Sailors notched in the first half.
"We're not going to make any excuses," Brinkley said. "They beat us. They did a great job. [Edison's coaching staff] had them ready to play, and they were more physical than us up front tonight. Hopefully we can get some guys back next week and we can make a better showing in the playoffs."
Brinkley said that Cochran, a standout performer at middle linebacker, and junior wideout Derek Kula are done for the season as a result of their injuries.
The Pac-5 championship game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 10, at Angels Stadium.
1 2 3 4 -- T
Edison 14 14 7 0 -- 35
Newport Harbor 7 0 0 0 -- 7
First Downs 16 8
Rushing Yards 155 75
Passing Yards 256 66
Total Net Yards 411 141
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties-Yards 6-50 1-5
E -- Chase Favreau 27 run; Aleksander Torgersen kick, 8:31
NH -- Titus Hassan 80 kick return; Christian Ochoa kick, 8:13
E -- Curren Provost 40 pass from Favreau; Toergersen kick, 5:29
E -- Favreau 17 run; Torgersen kick, 7:22
E -- Sedric Hill 38 pass from Favreau; Torgersen kick, :57
E -- Connor Mase 0 fumble recover; Torgersen kick; 10:52