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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Zero to Hero

Anderson Helps Thousand Oaks Go From 0-5 to Second in Marmonte League and a Berth in Playoffs

November 17, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — The game film had been watched, at times with hands over eyes. Another Thousand Oaks High loss had to be dissected.

Everything was wrong as the Lancers lost their fourth consecutive game to start the football season.

First-year Coach Mike Sanders had a litany of leaks to plug in a rapidly sinking ship, when he was pulled aside by junior Dave Anderson.

Anderson, a receiver and defensive back for the Lancers, had two requests. He wanted a pen. And he wanted some paper.

Easy requests to fill and, oddly, two important ones for Thousand Oaks.

Anderson wanted to jot down teammates' phone numbers to invite them to a Sunday barbecue at his house. Not exactly international peace talks, but the occasion turned into a badly needed afternoon of togetherness for a team that was 0-4 and had been outscored, 128-46.

Team members scarfed down steaks, watched NFL games and horsed around in the lake near Anderson's home.

"What we needed was to have experiences off the field like that," Sanders said. "We thought we were talented and we saw the mistakes we made. We just needed people to hold it together like that."

The Lancers lost their first game after the Sunday soiree to fall to 0-5, then started a five-game winning streak. They have averaged 35.6 points in the victories, climbing from the depths--a 49-0 loss at home to Westlake was pretty much ground zero--to finish second in the Marmonte League.

Anderson, called "Mr. Everything" by Sanders, played a big role in the about-face, which could continue tonight against Arroyo Grande in the first round of the Southern Section Division IV playoffs at Thousand Oaks.

During the Lancers' losing streak, Anderson didn't complain. Instead, he complied.

He did his job, even when it called for short pass routes over the middle into a swarm of linebackers.

The 6-foot, 185-pounder didn't merely break the school record for career receptions. He obliterated it.

He has 73 catches for 957 yards and four touchdowns this season, giving him 96 career receptions, nearly double the previous record of 53 set by Mike Trevathan in 1984-85.

"Guys like that could easily turn into 'me' guys and say, 'Keep giving me the ball,' " Sanders said.

"Dave's more like, 'Hey, let's win games.' "

Anderson's "we-first" attitude has translated well to the basketball court, where he averaged 9.7 points and 3.9 assists last season as the Lancers' point guard.

But these days football is his focus. The Lancers are trying to win a playoff game for the first time since 1995.

"It's amazing," Anderson said. "Our entire school was down on us. Even the newspapers were bagging on us. The only people who believed in us were ourselves."

Sanders couldn't believe his eyes when he attended a school assembly shortly after he was hired. He saw the cornerstones of his team, Anderson and junior quarterback Ben Olson, dancing around in skirts as part of a skit.

"I said, 'This is marvelous, guys . . . you're really instilling confidence in me,' " Sanders said.

Through time, Sanders realized Olson and Anderson weren't afraid of anything. On or off the field.

"They're really confident," Sanders said. "They're enjoying high school."

Anderson could have the last laugh. The Lancers are back from a disastrous start. The ship is sailing again.

"Some people still might believe we sneaked into the playoffs," he said. "Maybe we can turn some heads against Arroyo Grande."

INSIDE

* Chaminade and Hart should put on a passing show in playoffs tonight. D15

* La Canada breezes in playoff opener. D15

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