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Contreras Needs Time to Digest Big Win

October 21, 1987|TIM BROWN | Times Staff Writer

The events of the previous night did not strike George Contreras until breakfast at a Denny's restaurant almost 10 hours later.

There it was for the Westlake football coach and his wife to relish in the morning paper: Westlake, 7, Thousand Oaks, 6.

It was a minor miracle in Marmonte League circles.

"We stopped reading and looked at each other," Contreras said. "It was kind of an experience to see it in print. I was sitting there staring at my wife and both of us were at the point of crying. It was a very emotional feeling."

Previously unbeaten Thousand Oaks had appeared unstoppable in outscoring five opponents, 172-22. Westlake, by contrast, had allowed more points than it had scored, 91-86, in fashioning a 3-2 record. And although the Warriors were 2-0 in league play, they had not defeated the Lancers since 1985.

For Contreras, a former assistant on the Thousand Oaks coaching staff, it was a down-home, country-style upset.

"They have a saying in the rodeo," he said. "There's never been a horse that couldn't be rode, and there's never been a cowboy who couldn't be throwed. Now, we're the cowboys."

And the Lancers thought they had seen all they would of Cowboys, at least until the Coastal Conference playoffs. Last season, Canyon's Cowboys beat Thousand Oaks in the regular season and again in the second round of the playoffs. The Lancers beat Canyon, 13-10, in the third game of the season this year.

Westlake sits atop the league standings primarily because of what Contreras called the finest half of defense he's seen a Warrior team play in five years. Led by linebackers Bob Grandpre and Chris Millan and guard Rick Choate, Westlake held Thousand Oaks to 104 yards in a scoreless second half. A fumble by Lance Alverson on Westlake's 23-yard line and a missed 39-yard field goal by Sean Cheevers was as close as the Lancers got.

Millan made 17 tackles, 14 of which were "first hits," one short of the school record. Choate had eight tackles, including a sack.

"Chris played a tremendous ballgame," Contreras said. "And he had to, given the running game we were going against."

Grandpre's hard-nosed defense was remarkable because he is also the quarterback. Westlake held Lancer running back Marc Monestime--currently the league's leading rusher--to 30 second-half yards.

Add Westlake: The tradition of shearing heads continued Friday night as the Westlake players lassoed Athletic Director Bob Fisher after the win over Thousand Oaks.

"He is now a happy Mohawk chief," said Contreras, who got the same treatment after his team's victory over Newbury Park on Oct. 2. Fisher apparently attended the school's homecoming dance Saturday night wearing a headband and feather.

And should the Warriors win the league title?

"I don't know," Contreras said. "I'm running out of body parts."

Last add Westlake: Stanford has "The Play," the New York Giants have "The Fumble." Now, there's "The Catch."

Grandpre passed 32 yards to Keith Burke for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half for the only touchdown against Thousand Oaks. Burke's spectacular grab on the five-yard line and subsequent somersault into the end zone held up as the Warriors upset the Lancers.

Said Contreras: "Keith will forever be known in our school's history for making "The Catch.' "

Rising star: Abe Valdez has been a pleasant surprise for Camarillo cross-country Coach Mike Smith. Smith expected the sophomore transfer from Rio Mesa to be the Scorpions' fourth or fifth runner this season.

Valdez has emerged, however, as the No. 1 runner on the third-ranked team in the state in the large schools division (more than 1,600 students).

"I never expected to be the No. 1 man," the soft-spoken Valdez said. "I just wanted to improve on the times I ran last year. I didn't really think about being No. 1."

Valdez led Camarillo to its first Ventura County title at Moorpark College on Friday, placing third with a time of 15 minutes, 57 seconds over the three-mile course.

"He's just gotten better every race," Smith said. "He's becoming very, very confident. He's starting to feel like he can beat anybody he races against."

Despite his quiet demeanor, Valdez has become a team leader.

"Last year, we didn't really have a leader," Smith said. "But Abe has started to fill that roll. Not so much by his words but by his actions, by the way he races. The other kids are starting to look up to him."

Ugly but effective: Village Christian's 8-7 Alpha League victory over Maranatha on Saturday night wasn't a thing of beauty. But Coach Mike Plaisance didn't mind.

"There wasn't much offense, just a whole lotta defense," Plaisance said. "It wasn't real pretty to watch."

Trailing, 7-0, at the end of the third quarter, Village Christian narrowed the deficit to 7-6 early in the final quarter when Drew Martenson threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Lloyd.

Village Christian went for--and scored--a two-point conversion on a run by Joe Everett.

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