CALABASAS — Moorpark High's football team hasn't won a league championship since 1943. And after 50 years of frustration, you figure they had one coming.
A league title. And a lucky break.
With less than five minutes left in their 21-14 Frontier League victory over Calabasas, the Musketeers (7-1-1, 3-0 in league play) saw the Coyotes fumble near the goal line while trying to score a go-ahead touchdown.
Three plays after Moorpark recovered, quarterback Tyler Dritz appeared to be driven out of the end zone for a safety. However, an official ruled him down at the one.
And when Calabasas (6-3, 1-2) could only move backward after it got the ball back at the Moorpark 23, you got the feeling--finally--that this might be Moorpark's year.
Dritz allowed the Musketeers to clinch a share of the title when, after Calabasas turned the ball over on downs, he threw a perfect play-action pass to Art Hoffman for 33 yards and a touchdown with 1:04 remaining.
For the second week in a row, Moorpark--which has never finished better than 7-3 in a season--came from behind to win.
"We're a team of destiny," said Dritz, a junior. "We're champs."
Even if Moorpark loses next week in its regular-season finale against Santa Clara, the Musketeers will, at worst, be co-champions with Nordhoff. Moorpark would get the league's No. 1 seeding in the playoffs because it beat Nordhoff.
"The coaches made a great call," Dritz said of his pass to Hoffman on first down with time running out. "It was not my pass. Art was wide open and he made a great catch."
Dritz had a tough night to that point, completing only five of 14 passes for 28 yards and an interception before the touchdown. For the second week in a row, running back Bryan Wilkins (21 carries, 166 yards) carried the load.
But Calabasas running back Matt Findlay (21 carries, 121 yards) nearly stole the show with 4:55 left when he broke three tackles on a five-yard run to the goal line. Officials first signaled for a touchdown that would have given the Coyotes a 20-14 lead. But they changed the call and on the next play Moorpark's Anthony Rios recovered a fumbled Calabasas exchange.
Still at the one on third down, Dritz was flushed out of the pocket and chased out of bounds near the orange pylon marking the goal line. The Calabasas bench went wild, with players and coaches signaling for a safety. None was called.
"I thought they had me for a safety," said Dritz, "but I drove the ball through the goal line when I went out."