A Historic Rivalry: NHHS Football Prepares for Battle of the Bay

Students cheer on the NHHS football in the annual Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Corona del Mar High School.

Courtesy of Sophia Stark

Students cheer on the NHHS football in the annual Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Corona del Mar High School.

The cheering of the students accompanied by the give from their jumping feet signified the touchdown that had taken place. No mind the blue dye still infiltrating the air from the fiasco of color. 

The Battle of the Bay football game is historic in Newport Beach. Corona del Mar versus Newport Harbor. Two rivals. One bay. The game has been taking place since 1963.

The current record from the last 58 years is 38-22, advantage Newport.

“Overall, we have the winning record,” said Amanda Boyer, activities director at Newport Harbor. 

As a former student herself, she understands the history and importance of the game.

“When I attended here we always won,” she said. 

She says this to explain that the recent losses to Newport’s program are due to a rut and that there is most certainly hope in the future to turn the tables and get back to Newport’s historic string of wins. 

Boyer also noted the importance in the community.

“You get so many families and alumni in the stands,” she said. “I think it’s unique to see so many people in the community come to watch the game.” 

Boyer said this may be one of her favorite aspects of the game: getting to see a community come together and show support. With this pressure, it should be no surprise that the planning for this game begins months before it takes place.

“We started planning this, talking about it, at our first meeting in August,” Boyer said.

Along with beginning the poster-making process, ASB begins to ask themselves a series of questions about the event.

“What are we going to do to be different this year?” Boyer said. “What’s the t-shirt design? How are we going to build up the spirit for this game?” 

ASB is not the only one on campus to prepare early, though. Newport Harbor’s football team also takes the importance and significance of the game into account.

“We’ve been preparing for this game since the summer started,” said senior Nate Peters, who plays both offensive tackle and defensive end. 

The week leading up to the game, Peters could feel the heightened interest and anticipation taking place on campus. 

“You know it’s an important game at school,” he said. “I think I’ve had five people in each class asking if we’re going to win this week. Usually it’s just a couple of my friends. It’s nice to hear the support and concern from normal people on campus.” 

For Peters, the pressure comes not only from the expectations of students and staff, but also from the relationship between Newport Harbor and the opposing team. 

“It’s a rivalry game, so it’s always a bit more intense,” he said. “Battle of the Bay is very important to the school and the players because CdM has both our friends and our enemies. We give 110%.”

Nick Kim, Peters’s teammate and a senior quarterback on the team, agrees.

“There’s more of an importance to it,” he said. “I haven’t slept much this week. I’ve been watching a lot of film and spending extra time. We all are.” 

The eagerness and anticipation for the game was felt by many.

“We’re excited,” Kim said, referring to himself, his coaches, and teammates. “We feel like we will win. We were so close last year, and this year we feel like we’re up. We have the talent and the confidence to beat them.” 

Transferring from JSerra Catholic High School, Kim has seen how different Battle of the Bay feels compared to other rivalries.

“This one’s way bigger,” he said. “This is city vs city. It means more to everyone. It means more to the students. It means more to the fans. It means more to the players.”

The heightened interest in the game adds to the pressure the team feels from one another.

“There’s an established family atmosphere that is very attractive,” Peters said.

Kim feels the same way about their team.

“A strength that we have is that we’re very close,” he said. “We all love each other and we’re willing to work hard for each other. It’s better than teams I’ve been on in the past. There’s a lot of unity. We’re one team.” 

Newport Harbor is not the only school in this rivalry that plasters posters on their walls, however. Corona del Mar also partakes in the tradition. 

“I love the posters,” Kim said. “I think CdM has about six posters of me. That fires me up, It gets me ready to go.”

After all the posters and “riling up,” though, the game ended in a decisive 35-12 in CdM’s favor. It was the ninth straight Battle of the Bay win for the Sea Kings.

“There were mistakes made,” Peters said. “We acknowledge them. It doesn’t affect our relationship. We’re a family. It’s one of our core values in football. It was very, I don’t want to say sad, but that was the atmosphere.” 

Still, there is hope instilled in the players, the school, and the community.

“It’s our job that the next group of guys won’t lose heart and will find a way to win next year,” Peters said.