The Moorpark football team is on a roll.
The key to tonight’s game at home against Royal High is not to have a letdown. The matchup against the Highlanders is known as a "trap game." Or at least a potential one.
The term refers to a game against an opponent that is acknowledged by the outside world—not the Moorpark coaches or players—as a team that should be defeated with relative ease in the week prior to a big game that is scheduled the following week.
Moorpark doesn’t have a big game next week. It has a huge game. A gargantuan game. Oaks Christian is slated for next Friday in Westlake Village.
Polls may not have completely caught on to the Musketeers yet, and that’s most likely the way Moorpark’s head coach, Tim Lins, and his assistant coaches – although possibly not his players – would like it to remain.
But even the Musketeers players will probably relish going to Oaks Christian as an underdog with something to prove.
Both teams were smarting after tough losses on the same day, Sept. 21. Moorpark lost a one-point overtime thriller, and heartbreaker, at Palos Verdes. The Lions lost at home, 15-2, in a rare game in which their offense was pungent.
Brandon Dawkins, Oaks Christian’s standout junior quarterback, completed only 13 of 37 passes that day. More mind boggling, he threw for five interceptions. The Lions only score was a safety.
Moorpark’s loss to Palos Verdes wasn't quite as acrid, but still the Musketeers were stung deeply by losing to a team they knew they were better than.
Since then Moorpark has dominated three opponents, outscoring them 137-33 versus Oaks Christian's two, by a 71-6 count (it also had a bye).
Did we mention something about a trap game?
First things first. Tonight Moorpark (6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Marmonte League West Division) needs to stay sharp against a Royal foe that plays in the Marmonte League East (so the game won’t count on either team’s league record).
Oaks Christian (6-1, 2-0), though playing a struggling Calabasas squad, at least knows it is an essential game in the league standings as both play in the Marmonte League West.
“I hope not,” Lins said, when asked immediately after last week’s win over Agoura, if he was confident his players would not look past Royal.
Two days later, on Sunday, while preparing for the Highlanders at the Moorpark High School football facilities, he added: “We’re going to do the best we can to prepare for what we’re going to see Friday.”
Royal (5-2, 1-2) comes in after a huge win over cross-town rival Simi Valley, 21-20, last week. Both of the Highlanders Marmonte League East losses were by wide margins. They lost to Newbury Park by four touchdowns and Westlake by five touchdowns.
But Lins isn’t expecting Royal to be a pushover.
“Royal is another team that has played us tough,” he said. “We’ve had trouble with Royal. They do a good job preparing.”
Lins was asked whether there is any downside to the fact that his starters haven’t had to play much more than a half the past three games.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said. “Just looking at our schedule, our league has always been tough and I think it’s still a physical league.
“All we try to do is, we prepare for our next opponent and make our adjustment as we can during the game. But we really have to try our best to just focus on each opponent and not worry about what’s down the road.”