When the Moorpark football team beat Westlake on a 36-yard field goal by Eric Kreitz as time expired last week, the hope for the Musketeers was that third-place in the Marmonte League would bring a somewhat easier playoff draw than fourth place.
It did. Somewhat.
Westlake is traveling to play Mission Viejo, a team Maxpreps has ranked second in the state and fourth in the nation.
However, Moorpark, which ended the regular season 8-2 overall and 3-1 in league, didn’t exactly end up with a patsy in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 Division playoffs.
The Musketeers will have to travel to Mission Hills to play perennial high school football power, Bishop Alemany High, tonight.
“They were league champs,” said Moorpark head coach Tim Lins. “They’re a traditional power. They’re a very good, very physical, athletic team. And they’re well-coached, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Alemany, 8-2 like Moorpark, is ranked 11th in the state by Maxpreps and 34th in the nation. By contrast, the Musketeers are 34th in the state and 251st in the nation.
Maxpreps is only one of many sources that now rank high school football. But there is no doubt that Alemany, which is the top seed out the Serra League, is the favorite tonight.
The Warriors lost their two games by a total of six points and both losses were to very good teams.
On September 14, Alemany was defeated by Centennial, 36-32. Centennial finished the regular season 9-1 and ranked 11th in the state and 42nd in the country, by Maxpreps.
On October 26, Alemany was beaten by Crespi, 29-27. Crespi, which defeated Westlake, 43-16, on September 21, ended 8-2 with ranks of 15 and 67 in the state and nation.
Moorpark’s two losses were also against good competition. The Musketeers were defeated by Palos Verdes, 35-34, in overtime, on September 21. Palos Verdes is 7-3 heading into the playoffs, with rankings below Moorpark.
Moorpark was also defeated by Oaks Christian, a team ranked 13th in the state and 45th in the nation by Maxpreps. But the margin, 55-7, didn’t help the Musketeers in any rankings.
Moorpark is led on offense by senior running back Aaron Stanton, senior quarterback Austin Cole, and receivers Chad Hansen and Brendan Hodgson, both seniors, and junior Tyler Collet.
The defense is led by Tony Mack, a senior linebacker, and Tyler Puccio, a junior who is a three-year starter as a defensive lineman.
Alemany is coached by Dean Herrington, who formerly was an assistant at Hart High School, in Newhall, where he coached with two brothers, including head coach Mike Herrington.
Herrington left to become the head coach at Alemany starting in the fall of 2006. After going 4-6 that first season, the Warriors quickly turned things around under their new coach beginning in 2007.
In 2009 the Warriors lost in the CIF finals, 24-21, to Mira Costa. In 2008 and 2010 the Warriors lost in the semifinals to the eventual CIF champion. Last year, Alemany lost in the first round to St. John Bosco, 33-28.
Moorpark lost to Thousand Oaks, 21-14, in the second round of the playoffs last year. The Musketeers lost in the second round in 2010 as well. The year before, 2009, Moorpark lost in the CIF finals against Westlake, 14-10.
Under Lins, the Musketeers also made it to the CIF championship games in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Each time Moorpark played a great team. But things are even tougher with the Marmonte League moving to the Pac 5 for the first time this postseason.
“This Pac 5 Division is loaded” said Lins, as he and his coaches gathered last Sunday to begin breaking down film of Alemany and to start planning for the game.
“Every team is excellent, so anything can happen in these games. We’ve got to get to work and prepare for Alemany and try to put our best performance out there on Friday night.”