In 1965, the inhabitants of Moorpark, known as "bean farmers" over in Carpinteria, were wondering when their high school football team would ever beat Carp again. The Musketeers had lost an embarrassing 24 in a row to their rivals from Santa Barbara County. Carp fans never were shy about rubbing it in, either, and lemons from nearby orchards were often splattered against the visiting team's bus after yet another Carp win.
The mounting string of losses was made even more intolerable for Moorpark because Carpinteria was good in many departments--and knew it. An oceanside paradise with the "world's safest beach," Carp was only a scant 10 miles from the Santa Barbara social scene. In the summer, a light breeze would blow sophistication down the coast. Moorpark, on the other hand, was 20 miles from the waves, a plain-looking Ventura County backwater landlocked by mountains and cut off from the cultural influences of Los Angeles.
As that year's game approached, Moorpark players were confident that the streak would not last. "And we knew we were the team that would end it," said Roy Talley, class of '66. "Nobody thought it would go on. But Carp did it again," beating Moorpark, 20-0.
Going into last Friday night's game at Moorpark Stadium, local fans were still wondering when their team would ever beat Carp. Nobody, not even the most fanatic Warrior fan, could have dreamed that the streak would have gone on, and on, and on. By this year, the Warriors had stretched the 24 games to 46, a record of dominance believed to be unmatched in high school football. "We used to schedule Moorpark on homecoming because it was a sure win," said Marty Macias, owner of a barbershop on Carpinteria Avenue, the main drag. "We really have their number."
The Warriors' mastery of Moorpark in football has done nothing to cure Carp's superiority complex. If anything, the games have only served to reinforce and perpetuate the perceptions. Poor Moorpark. Lucky Carp. "I don't know anything about football," said Janet Aresco, a restaurant hostess in Carpinteria, "but I've heard about the Moorpark streak. It's been going on for a long time."
Back in 1928, a winding two-lane blacktop connected the towns. Football was just starting up on the high school level, but towns with teams were few and far between. So even though they were 40 miles apart, Moorpark would travel to Carp for the third game of the season. It was primitive football, but it was pure. Small towns. Community involvement. School spirit. Moorpark won, 12-7, then won again the next year. But it wasn't the start of a dynasty.
Carp hasn't lost to Moorpark since 1934. There are elderly people in both towns who have not been living long enough to remember a Moorpark win. This does not boost morale in Moorpark. "There's a psychological barrier," Athletic Director Ross Callaway said. Shop owner Joy Cummings is "sick and tired of hearing about it." The legacy of defeat is passed from generation to generation. Losing to Carp is in the genes. Said Talley: "These days we hope to win but we don't expect to."
Lucky Carp. The same legacy provides the Warriors with an aura of invincibility. "They always seemed to be a major force that swept in and just overpowered us," said Linda Plaks, whose husband, Harvey, used to be president of the Moorpark Booster Club. "I always felt that Carp had bigger players, better-looking uniforms, more money to support the team. Even the cheerleaders were excellent." Linda's daughter had been a Moorpark cheerleader, no easy task. "She had to keep everybody up even though you knew we were doomed," Linda said.
Another element heavily affecting the psyches of Moorpark fans has been their team's generosity toward other schools. In the late '70s, the Musketeers managed to put together 46 losses in a row. Community pride was taking a beating not only in Carpinteria but in places like Fillmore and Santa Ynez. Something had to be done. It didn't take a genius to figure out that with populations about equal, Carp had something Moorpark lacked--which had nothing to do with geography.
What Carp had was a football program. A few years ago, the Moorpark town fathers decided to get one for themselves.
Life was changing in Moorpark. No longer a sleepy farming community, it was becoming a boom town, more than doubling in size to 16,000 since 1980 (Carp is 11,000 and holding steady). The 118 and 23 freeways, both dead-ending in Moorpark, have brought Los Angeles over the hill. Civilization has arrived. Brand new Spanish-looking subdivisions displace lemon groves and bean fields. Brand new storefronts disguise old buildings on High Street. Next year, a brand new high school opens its doors.