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Westlake Pours It on Royal, Leiben

Marmonte League: Warriors beat Highlanders for ninth consecutive time, then give defensive coordinator an ice bath.


SIMI VALLEY — Jim Benkert smiled. For once, he wasn't the one getting soaked by ice water after the game.

That honor, if it can be called that, was bestowed upon defensive coordinator Mike Leiben of Westlake High, who was shivering but smiling because his defense stymied Royal during a 33-15 victory.

The Warriors held Royal to 192 yards--only 40 on the ground--and all but wrapped up a second consecutive Marmonte League championship Friday night at Royal.

What was supposed to be a game to remember turned into a second-quarter rout by the Warriors (7-1, 4-0 in league play), who scored three touchdowns in a 3:54 span and defeated Royal (5-3, 2-2) for the ninth consecutive season.

Westlake refused to lose despite a rough week of practice--seven players sat out Wednesday with various ailments--and an ineffective aerial attack that sputtered under third-string quarterback Kent Sowell.

No worries. That's why defense was created.

Westlake harassed James Cox into four interceptions and held Greg Morris, who entered with a 12.7 yard-per-carry average, to 23 yards in 12 carries.

Thus the bath for Leiben.

"We've been playing good defense for a year and a half now," said a dry, non-shivering Benkert, Westlake's head coach. "This is just another example of our defense just dominating a football game."

Phil McKnight had two interceptions for the Warriors, who have eight of their season-total 12 interceptions in the last two games.

"We were getting bagged on for not getting interceptions," said McKnight, who also had two last week against Irvine Woodbridge. "But the last two games we came through."

John White came through with a game-breaking interception in the second quarter.

Westlake had taken a 7-0 lead on a 17-yard run by Jon Contos when White picked off a pass by Cox and raced 24 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.

Royal never came closer than 14 points.

"I think the speed of their defense is evident," Royal Coach Gene Uebelhardt said. "You can't play against a team like that and make mistakes and expect to win."

Sowell, playing in place of injured Corey Miles and Todd Feiereisen, completed five of 19 passes for 87 yards but the Warriors' ground game was enough.

Contos rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown in 24 carries. He also scored on a swing pass, turning the ball upfield for a 38-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 7:31 left in the second quarter.

Cox completed 11 of 27 passes for 152 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Wiesenhan with 2:50 to play.

Westlake can clinch the title with one more victory.


* Kyle Matter became Hart's career leader in touchdown passes in victory over Burroughs. D15

* Granada Hills used trick plays on a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive to beat El Camino Real, 14-13. D15

* Ventura's Tyler Ebell set the county season rushing record with 351 yards against Dos Pueblos. D19

* Quarterback Mike Jasper led Camarillo over Oxnard. D19

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