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Physical Sailors Sink Kennedy


Chris Manderino, showing he is among Orange County's most valuable players, did a little of everything on Friday.

Manderino produced on offense and defense as fourth-seeded Newport Harbor crushed Kennedy, 49-10, in a second-round Southern Section Division VI playoff game at Western High.

Manderino was typically productive on offense, pounding Kennedy to the tune of 200 yards and five touchdowns in 29 carries.

But Manderino, who also plays linebacker, showed he is an equal-opportunity bruiser. His 16-yard interception return, and 10-yard fumble return, set up short scoring drives for Newport Harbor.

"Tonight was probably my best all-around game," said Manderino, who began the season at quarterback but whose transition to tailback coincided with his team's increased scoring. "My offensive line opened huge holes and my fullback, Travis Trimble, got to every one of his blocks."

Newport Harbor and Kennedy met in a semifinal last year, and Newport Harbor won, 49-0, en route to winning the Division VI championship.

"They're pretty [darn] good," said Mitch Olson, Kennedy's coach. "I think they're as good as last year."

Newport Harbor, which went undefeated in 1999, improved to 10-2. The Sailors will host top-seeded La Mirada a week from today. La Mirada defeated Cypress, 41-8.

Kennedy finished 8-4.

Things started well for Kennedy, which took a 3-0 lead after a muffed punt set up Alex Vasquez's 34-yard field goal. But Newport Harbor answered with a 69-yard drive, with Manderino scoring from 17 yards. The point-after was missed, but the Sailors got another chance within two minutes.

Manderino intercepted a Geoff Etherson pass and returned it to the Kennedy 19. Manderino scored from eight yards, and quarterback Morgan Craig converted the two-point conversion for a 14-3 lead.

Manderino added a five-yard score for a 21-3 lead, and on the next play, returned a fumble nine yards to the Kennedy one-yard line. Trimble scored for a 28-3 lead.

Manderino added touchdown runs of one and four yards in the third quarter.

"Our kids played very well on both sides of the ball," said Jeff Brinkley, Newport Harbor's coach. "Our defensive coaches had a good scheme in place and the kids executed it very well. Kennedy has some real talented guys over there."

But so does Newport Harbor. The Sailor defense held Kennedy to 152 yards, and big-play receiver Rhema McKnight had five catches for only 21 yards.

"We don't match up with them at all," Olson said. "We're tough, but we're small, and that [Manderino] is tougher than [heck]."

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