WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Santa Ana Mater Dei and Westlake highs in the same sentence?
It happened Saturday night, in a statement made by an entirely coherent and sensible football coach.
Of course, with every truth there is good reasoning.
Westlake, an obvious underdog coming into a nonleague game against Clovis West--ranked No. 10 in the nation by one publication--went nearly step for step with the Golden Eagles.
Westlake lost, 15-0, more a victim of attrition and depletion than anything else.
But respect was gained, at least in the eyes of Clovis West Coach Stan Kanawyer, who knows a thing or two about perennial power Mater Dei: His team defeated the Monarchs, 24-17, last week.
"[Westlake] had a better offense than Mater Dei," Kanawyer said.
"They copied Mater Dei's defense, but they mixed it up better than Mater Dei. Their defensive coordinator [Troy Thomas] did a great job scheming."
Westlake bottled up Clovis West's deceiving wing-T, holding the Golden Eagles to nine points until Ryan Harbick scored on a 30-yard run with 1:30 to play.
But Westlake (1-1) could not circumvent the Clovis West (2-0) defense, which forced six turnovers.
The Warriors gained 37 yards rushing, basically abandoning all hope of a ground game after Julian Lambert went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter.
To make matters worse, Westlake receiver Chris Catalano also was sidelined by an ankle injury and did not play in the second half.
"A couple of our wheels went down early," Westlake Coach Jim Benkert said.
"Those guys are a tremendous part of our offense. We became one-dimensional without our guys to run the football."
Zac Wasserman, who has committed to Penn State, threw the ball 47 times, completing 24 passes for 236 yards, succeeding in short patterns for six, seven, eight yards at a time. Wasserman, who missed part of practice on Thursday because of a fever, also had five interceptions.
"To hold him to zero [touchdowns] is a great job by our coaching staff," Kanawyer said. "We've just got to say we have the best defense in the nation."
Clovis West, which has three members of the school 400-meter relay team in its backfield, rushed for 298 yards.
Ryan Ledger gained 105 yards in 13 carries, but sat out most of the second half with symptoms of a slight concussion, Kanawyer said.
Chad Seiler had 90 yards in 14 carries for Clovis West, which never appeared nervous, but never relaxed either.
The Golden Eagles took a 6-0 lead with 10 seconds to play in the first quarter on a two-yard run by Ryan Harbick, who finished with 61 yards in 16 carries.
Clovis did not score a touchdown again until the fourth quarter.
"We felt we were right there," Benkert said. "We didn't come here to be close. We came here to win."
Said Wasserman: "I could see why they're 10th in the nation. But we were in a total win-win situation. If we win it, we would have been ranked in the nation."