Several seniors on the Thousand Oaks High football team can vividly recall the school's Southern Section championship in 1987.
Sophomores that year, they had been promoted from the junior varsity for the playoffs. Although the group played sparingly, it was able to share in the emotion of the successful four-game march through the postseason.
Now it is their turn to try and lead the Lancers all the way.
Thousand Oaks (9-0-1), the Marmonte League champion and top-seeded team in Division II, plays host to Palmdale on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round game. Palmdale (3-7) is the third-place team from the Golden League.
Palmdale tailback LaShante Parker has rushed for 1,077 yards and 11 touchdowns in 201 carries. The Falcons have allowed 2,664 yards and have been outscored, 206-153.
Thousand Oaks has outscored its opponents, 248-67, and has allowed only 1,348 yards.
In other first-round Division II games:
Leuzinger (7-2-1) vs. Buena, Friday at Ventura High: Buena, in its second playoff appearance in two years under Coach Rick Scott, faces a banged-up Leuzinger team that is coming off a loss to Santa Monica.
Leuzinger was favored to win the Bay League, but finished third after eight starters fell to injuries. The Olympians are especially thin in the secondary, which must please Jason Isaacs. The Buena quarterback has passed for 1,877 yards.
Luckily for Leuzinger, quarterback Zac Odom has not been injured. Odom runs the option well and is an adequate passer. Marvin Johnson, who opened the season at tailback before injuring a knee two months ago, will play only defense. Vernel Williams, whose separated shoulder has healed, will start at tailback.
Newbury Park (6-2-2) at Palos Verdes (9-1), Friday: The Panthers have a tough draw in Palos Verdes, co-champion of the tough Bay League. The Sea Kings are on a roll, having won six in a row after falling to Hawthorne in their league opener.
Quarterback Blake Anderson, son of Dick Anderson, the former Miami Dolphin All-Pro defensive back, is Palos Verdes' leader. Anderson, a senior, runs the option well and is an decent passer. He also has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
Defensive back Mark Antrobius has eight interceptions and is the team's best wide receiver.
Beyond Anderson and Antrobius, however, the Sea Kings are reminiscent of the No-Name Dolphin defense Dick Anderson played on. They have few stars, and their success in surprising: In a preseason poll, Bay League coaches picked Palos Verdes to finish sixth.
Newbury Park, which finished second in the Marmonte League, boast a rugged defense and an imaginative offense under first-year Coach George Hurley.
Two-way starters Joe Smigiel and Jeff Jay are the top players on the line, but Phil Pederson and Trevor Cull have also had fine seasons. Linebacker Craig Satcher and defensive backs Brad Hansen and Jeff Buchanan head a defense that has posted three shutouts.
Westlake (4-5-1) at Arcadia (9-1), Friday: Arcadia is a powerful defensive team in the mold of top Marmonte League teams Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park. That's the bad news for Westlake, which finished third in the Marmonte behind the Lancers and Panthers and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
Arcadia has allowed only 90 points, 39 in five consecutive Pacific League victories. The Apaches have seven wins in a row since losing to Temple City, 18-14.
Twins Tim and Tom Pescatello are the running backs in Arcadia's I formation. Tom, the fullback, has rushed for 528 yards, while Tim, the tailback, has 578 yards and an 8.9 average. Quarterback Gino Aluzzi has thrown only 125 times, but has 15 touchdown passes and 975 yards.
Westlake quarterback Todd Preston has passed for 1,689 yards, utilizing four receivers almost equally. Wide receivers Seamus Gibbons and Erik Holcomb, tight end David Monheim and running back Luke Crawford each have at least 25 catches.
St. Joseph (2-8) vs. Santa Clara (7-3), Friday at Oxnard High: The Saints would appear to have drawn an easy opponent, except for two facts: First, St. Joseph's victories have come the past two weeks, giving the team third place in the Los Padres League. Second, Santa Ynez needed two fourth-quarter scores to defeat St. Joseph, 17-7, in a nonleague game. Santa Clara handed Santa Ynez its only loss, 24-20, in a pivotal Frontier League game.
St. Joseph's fortunes turned for the better with the return of 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Paul Ross, who broke his left hand before the season and missed the first seven games. Ross has passed for 590 yards in three games, including victories over Paso Robles and Morro Bay.
Senior tailback Pete Baichtal, who also plays outside linebacker, has rushed for 572 yards. Two-way starters M.G. Cantero and Lafelle McGilvery are the team's best linemen.
Fillmore (9-1) vs. Big Bear (8-1-1), Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Big Bear Middle School: The Flashes must put last week's 41-0 loss to Carpinteria behind them and focus on their first playoff game since 1984. Big Bear, co-champion of the De Anza League, is led by senior quarterback John Gump, who has completed 95 of 154 for 1,126 yards. Gump was the league's most valuable offensive player last season.
Junior fullback Phelan Piestrup has gained 705 yards, averaging 7.5 a carry, and has scored 12 touchdowns. Tailback Steve Roussell has scored 10 times. Zeke Piestrup, Phelan's brother, is Big Bear's leading receiver with 23 catches.
Big Bear's only loss was a 21-20 decision against Beaumont in its first league game.
Fillmore has allowed only 81 points, with more than half scored by Carpinteria. Junior running back Tory Cabral has a school-record 1,254 yards rushing.