When running back Cedric Whitaker left Newport Harbor after the spring without so much as a goodbye, he left the Sailors in a predicament. Their response? Give the ball to Buzzy.
Buzzy Yokoyama – it's his real name – made his varsity debut at running back on Thursday in a 17-6 victory over Trabuco Hills. The experiment seemed to go pretty well. Yokoyama's first night in the petri dish yielded 113 yards in 18 carries, and he also returned a kickoff 75 yards in the final minute of the first half that turned momentum back in favor of the Sailors and eventually led to a field goal as time expired for a 10-6 lead. Not bad for a converted wide receiver.
Jeff Brinkley, beginning his 25th season as coach at Newport, was hoping that his team could develop a running game to go with a quarterback the program has a lot of confidence in, Austin Rios. The running game showed potential.
“He ran the ball really hard, he's a tough kid,” Brinkley said of Yokoyama, who is listed as a 5-foot-10, 198-pound junior. “He did what we needed from him.”
Yokoyama said he's “just trying to fill in” to replace Whitaker.
“The shoes aren't mine yet,” Buzzy said. “I still have to prove myself week after week. Tonight wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to dominate.”
As for a grade on his performance?
“I'd give myself a B,” he said. “There are some things I can improve on next week. Picking up the blitzes. Protecting the quarterback. Run harder. Find holes.”
Next week, the Buzzy experiment goes to L.A. Valley College where the Sailors face Loyola.