Like the fireplace in a cozy living room, everyone on the Thousand Oaks High defense gathers around middle linebacker Lance Martin. There might as well be a load of bricks sitting from tackle to tackle: Martin (6-foot-1, 218 pounds) is as sturdy as a fireplace.
Of course, only a fool would run smack into a fireplace.
Newbury Park, the latest challenge for Martin and the lively Lancer defense, became Thousand Oaks' fifth shutout victim. The Lancers won, 21-0, to secure the Marmonte League title.
Martin, a superb all-around athlete who batted .379 last baseball season, leads the Lancers with 110 tackles. Against Newbury Park, he intercepted a pass and forced a fumble to halt drives in the first half and lead a defensive charge that held the Panthers to nine yards rushing in the second half.
Martin's performance underscored what all Thousand Oaks opponents have learned: Run from tackle to tackle and you are bound to get burned.