A full hour before the start of Friday night's pivotal game against Channel Islands, Westlake was on the field running extra passing drills, doing extra calisthenics and generally looking for whatever added edge they could get.
With a possible berth in the Southern Section playoffs at stake, the Westlake coaching staff was looking for any advantage it could find. It also wanted to avoid a reprise of last season's collapse down the stretch, when the Warriors lost their last three games and missed the playoffs.
"We have to win this game," Westlake assistant Andy Andreolli said before the kickoff. "It's that simple."
But it wasn't that easy. Channel Islands scored on its first two possessions and climbed past Westlake in the Marmonte League standings with a 25-9 win at Thousand Oaks.
Westlake Coach George Contreras had almost expected it.
"These guys are big," Contreras said. "About as tough as anybody in the league."
But wily Westlake (5-4, 3-2) managed to stay close in the first half, despite some costly mistakes.
Channel Islands (6-2-1, 3-1-1) scored on its first possession when Westlake's Chris Mann failed to field a punt at the Warrior 22-yard line. The Raiders took advantage of the turnover, taking a 3-0 lead on John Sunia's 27-yard field goal.