Newport Harbor football updates status of starting QB Jaden O’Neal, transfer Cole Leinart

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Newport Harbor’s football team will have starting quarterback Jaden O’Neal on Friday as it attempts to break a 10-game losing streak against Back Bay rival Corona del Mar.

Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse said late Thursday that the 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore will start against Corona del Mar in the teams’ Battle of the Bay game at Newport Harbor High.

O’Neal came up slightly limping after a scramble run against Edison last week and left late in a 31-28 loss.

He completed 32 of 40 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He set career highs for completions and passing yards, and also rushed for a score.

Corona del Mar (4-4, 1-2 in the Sunset League) has won its last 10 games against Newport Harbor (3-5, 1-2) and leads the all-time series 38-22.

Lofthouse also provided an update on quarterback Cole Leinart, a transfer from Mater Dei who remains ineligible with the Sailors, according to the CIF-SS website.

Leinart, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound sophomore and son of Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart (Mater Dei/USC), has practiced with the Sailors and received some reps with the scout team, Lofthouse said before the Edison game.

“He’s been a good kid, good fit so far,” Lofthouse said. “He’s working hard, learning the playbook. We’ll just wait until the CIF stuff gets taken care of.”

Newport Harbor also has a strong junior backup QB in Bode Stefano, who tossed a late touchdown to recently-cleared Mater Dei transfer wide receiver Sammy Stremick last week.

“We got a lot of quarterback,” Lofthouse said. “It’s great to have a lot of talented kids on one campus and it makes the competition for the position really strong. As a coach, that’s always the one thing you’re looking for. It’s the competition at practice that leads to better performance on Friday nights.”

“It’s also nice to be in a position where you know you have depth if there is an emergency,” the coach added.

Please send football news to Dan Albano at or @ocvarsityguy on X and Instagram

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