In recent years, Hueneme taking on Ventura in a high school football game could be compared to Pee Wee Herman sparring with Mike Tyson.
This season was to be no different. Ventura, as usual, was counted among the best teams in the county.
Hueneme was 1-9 in 1986. The only good news for them was that they had the same players back.
Or was that bad news?
"They always had some fine athletes," Ventura Coach Harvey Kochel said of Hueneme. "They just needed someone to come in and straighten them out."
Enter George Machado. In his second season as coach, Machado has transformed Hueneme from a jester to a challenger to the throne in the Channel League. The Vikings are 3-1 and ranked 10th in the Coastal Conference going into Friday's 7:30 p.m. game against Ventura at Hueneme.
Ventura (4-0), ranked third in the conference, is still favored, but Hueneme's fast start has Kochel concerned.
"Our guys have had trouble getting up for them in the past and if that's the way it is this week, we're gonna be in trouble," Kochel said. "I think they've snuck up on some people, but they won't on us. At least I hope not. I'm gonna show our kids the films. I figure if they can't tell Hueneme's a good football team from those, then they can't evaluate talent very well."
A Hueneme victory would serve as a belated birthday present for Machado, who turned 38 on Wednesday but said he feels 20 years older. The blame rests squarely on the shoulder pads of the Hueneme football team: All four of the Vikings' games have been decided by two points or less.
"I'm a nervous wreck," Machado said. "I can't take many more of these."
Hueneme lost to Cabrillo, 16-15, in its season opener, but then defeated Camarillo, 14-12, Channel Islands, 13-12, and Oxnard, 14-12.
Ventura has outscored its opponents, 100-32. Quarterback Jason Mateny passed for three touchdowns in a 28-7 win over Buena. "The other teams we played were more one-dimensional," he said. "Ventura passes as well as they run."
Hueneme also has a balanced attack. The Vikings have three talented running backs in Freddie Bradley, Cedric Hackett and David Nunnery, and quarterback Joel Gaxiola has completed 40 of 64 passes for 385 yards and 1 touchdown and has 1 interception.
The last time Moorpark defeated Carpinteria in a varsity football game, Franklin Roosevelt was president. The year: 1934. Carpinteria has won the past 45 games.
Moorpark (1-3) broke one dubious streak last week, defeating Fillmore, 14-7, for its first win since defeating Bishop Diego, 20-12, on Nov. 8, 1985.
Friday night in a 7:30 game at Moorpark, the Musketeers will take aim at Carpinteria again in a Tri-Valley League game.
Carpinteria (4-0) is the top-ranked team in the Inland Conference. Last week, the Warriors defeated previously unbeaten Oak Park, 44-0.
This week's high school football games: Friday night at 7:30, Oxnard (1-3) visits San Marcos (2-2) and Rio Mesa (1-2-1) plays Buena (0-4) at Larrabee Stadium in Channel League games.
In nonleague games, Laguna Hills (0-4) visits Santa Paula (2-2), Channel Islands (3-1) visits El Camino Real (0-2), and Fillmore (0-4) visits Nordhoff (2-2).
In a Tri-Valley League game tonight at 8, Santa Ynez (2-2) plays St. Bonaventure (1-3).
In junior college games Saturday, Bakersfield (1-3) visits Moorpark (4-0) at 1:30 p.m., and Ventura (0-4) plays Santa Barbara (0-4) in a Western State Conference game at Larrabee Stadium at 7:30 p.m.