First of two parts
In honor of Davidson Field’s reopening after a two-year hiatus from hosting high school football games, we celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the first Newport-Mesa team to reach the CIF Southern Section Division I or large-school division semifinals.
While Newport Harbor High has enjoyed numerous championships and victories under Coach Jeff Brinkley since 1986 and many head coaches prior to his arrival, the inaugural Sailor squad to play with the big boys and make the Final Four was Coach Bill Pizzica’s 1977 unit.
Some of the standouts included wide receiver/free safety Wayne Kasparek, captain and first-team All-CIF linebacker Don Barker and defensive end/offensive guard Doug Brockmeyer, now a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City and an avid adventure seeker who once scaled Mount Everest.
The team’s quarterback, Craig Lyons, is a real estate magnate and race car driver who competed in August in the Road America 120 Continental Tire Challenge while steering a TRG Aston Martin #3 VB Vantage GT4, one of the many cars he races.
Kasparek, voted the ’77 Harbor team’s Most Valuable Player, died at age 34 in December 1993 after a fall at a popular tourist attraction seven miles south of Sedona, Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic.
Kasparek was living in Los Osos at the time of his death, which apparently was a climbing accident, Lyons said. “It was more of a fall than anything else,” Lyons said. “As I understand it, he was running down a mountain doing giant steps and it got out of control and he crashed and burned. That’s the gist of what I got. That was awful.”
On the football field, Kasparek was among Harbor’s best, earning recognition in the Orange County All-Star Game along with Barker and Brockmeyer.
While the 9-3 Sailors finished second in the Sunset League behind Fountain Valley, in the CIF playoffs they reached the Big Five Conference semifinals, the Division I equivalent. Harbor defeated St. Francis in the first round, 21-15, and West Covina in the quarterfinals, 14-10, before losing to St. Paul.
“All the 1970s classes, except the Class of ’77, enjoyed at least making the playoffs,” Lyons said. “We were very happy to have gone further in Division I than any Harbor team had done. No one has exceeded that still.”
Newport Harbor won CIF championships in Division V (1994) and Division VI (1999 and 2005). The 1942 Sailors played in the CIF…