All the Westlake High football team wants is a little respect.
"This season, nobody has had any respect for us," said Chris Lemieux, Westlake's quarterback, only moments after the Warriors beat Lompoc, 13-10. "I'm sure they'll have a little now."
Lack of respect for the Warriors would be, well, disrespectful. Few people gave Westlake much of a chance against Lompoc, ranked No. 3 in the Northwestern Conference. After all, Lompoc had Jake Brown, the Northern League track and football star. And although Brown did rush 20 times for 106 yards, he failed to score a touchdown and his biggest gain Thursday was 18 yards.
Westlake, on the other hand, had big gains. Two, to be exact. One, Rob Mandel's 49-yard touchdown run up the middle, gave Westlake a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. The second, Todd Thompson's 57-yard run off right tackle, gave the Warriors the lead for good. Thompson had a 73-yard touchdown run in last week's 40-18 win over Lompoc.
Beating the No. 3 team is certainly worth celebrating. For Westlake, however, beating Lompoc anytime is something to remember.
"We've always told our kids," Westlake Coach George Contreras said, "if you have played Lompoc, and you have won, you have done something that you are never going to forget."
Lompoc (1-1) may not soon forget the loss. The schools started playing each other five years ago. Westlake leads the series, 3-2. Twelve Lompoc starters return from the team that won the Northern League championship last year and was ousted from the Southern Section semifinals only by Canyon. In fact, it was only Lompoc's fourth loss in the past two seasons.
Said Lemieux: "It's great to beat a top-ranked team. This is a great rivalry, a big rivalry. They play a tough brand of football. And they play it tough to the last second."
Much to Lompoc's misfortune, so does Westlake.
After Mandel and Thompson had given Westlake a 13-3 lead, the Westlake defense had the unenviable task of trying to stop Brown.
But that's where respect comes in. Late in the fourth quarter, after Lompoc quarterback Eric Pacheco had thrown an 18-yard touchdown to James Binnebose, the Warrior defense was challenged. Westlake was forced to punt with less than five minutes left and the snap went over punter Vic Topper's head. Topper picked the ball up, ran, and lost eight yards. Suddenly, Lompoc had the ball on the Westlake 31 with time on its side.
Aided by two penalties, the Warrior defense held Lompoc, forcing a punt, and got the ball back on its own 15. Westlake took a delay-of-game penalty to kill time, then Topper kicked a fine punt, giving Lompoc the ball at its 42.
Pacheco, in a hurry, threw two incompletions. Then he handed off to Brown, who already had rushed for more than 100 yards. But Brown was dropped in the backfield by Westlake linebacker Dave Brown. Pacheco tried to throw again on fourth down but was intercepted by Topper. End of story.
"They played us tough in the secondary and that made it tough to pass," Contreras said. "But those guys, Topper, Mandel, Thompson, those are key guys who always come through.
L--Hang 8 FG.
W--Mandel 49 run (Messner kick)
W--Thompson 57 run (kick failed)
L--Binnebose 18 pass from Pacheco (Hang kick)