It was quite a party they had at Davidson Field Friday night: blue and white balloons everywhere, Homecoming programs selling for $2 a crack, floats, TV cameras from a local station, 3,000 people in the stands and even a new car to raffle.
In short, all of the pomp that you come to expect from high school football at its best.
The only thing more exciting than the pageantry was the game, the result of which touched off a celebration that might still be going on today.
Led by Shane Foley on both offense and defense, Newport Harbor High School held off determined Saddleback, 24-21, in a battle of the defending Sea View League co-champions.
Saddleback (1-1 in league, 4-1 overall) entered the game unbeaten, having shut out three of its first four opponents. Newport Harbor (2-0, 4-1) came in riding high on the arm of Foley, who last week threw for five touchdowns in the first half.
Both teams knew what to expect from the other, and both delivered their specialties. When it was over, the Sailors emerged as the team on the inside track to the season's league title.
It should come as no surprise that the Sailors were led by Foley, a player of remarkable instincts and composure, one who surely will find himself playing for a major college team this time next year.
With the game tied, 21-21, the ball on his 4-yard line with only 4:41 to play, Foley not only drove his team most of the length of the field for the eventual game-winning field goal, he also turned around on defense and stifled Saddleback's last gasp attempt.
Facing a third-and-10 from his 4, Foley rolled left deep into the end zone and, on the run, completed a 15-yard pass to Mark Craig to give the Sailors some much-needed breathing room.
If the pass had been incomplete, the Sailors would have been forced to punt to give the Roadrunners good field position with ample time to score.
Instead, the play ignited the Sailors as Foley then found flanker Andy Sheppard for 38 yards to put the ball into Saddleback territory.
Six plays later, Sterling Coberly kicked a 42-yard field goal, and the Sailors went out in front, 24-21, with 2:31 to play.
Then, Newport Harbor Coach Mike Giddings inserted Foley at free safety.
Said Giddings: "You always want your best athletes in there when the game is on the line."
Giddings knew that proud Saddleback wasn't finished at that point. Starting from their 36-yard line, tailback Glenn Campbell carried it nine yards to the 45-yard line, where the Roadrunners called time out with 1:51 left.
Giddings used that opportunity to take the field and speak a few words of inspiration to his defense.
"What did I say?" Giddings was asked afterward. "I went into the huddle and said, 'Isn't this great? Isn't this fun ? We're playing for the title right here and now. We'll win it or lose it right here.' Then I left. Great coaching, huh'?"
Whatever, it worked. On the next play, instead of going for the one yard to get the first down, Saddleback tried to go up top for the bomb on a play-action pass.
Patrolling center field for the Sailors was none other than Foley.
Said he: "My job was to drop deep and look for the ball. He (Saddleback quarterback Myron Butler) looked right and then came back my way. He might've seen the receiver (running a deep pattern) out of the corner of his eye."
Apparently, Butler saw his receiver but didn't see Foley. Arching a bomb down the left sideline, Butler threw a nice spiral, but Foley stepped in front of the receiver for the interception and the game was all but over.
Saddleback, which had an early 14-0 lead, was left to contemplate what might have been had such interceptions and fumbles not let Newport Harbor back into the game in the first place.