Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Debriefing John Velasquez and a Westlake H.S. Practice

Wednesday, August 30, 2017:

Once again I got so caught up with seeing an old friend today for lunch that I forgot to have someone take our picture.

John Velasquez was back from
walking the 500 mile
Camino de Santiago's
French Route

This is the same route that I walked back in 2010 and we had talked before he left about all things Camino in order to prepare him for his adventure.

From the sounds of it, John, another retired Rio Mesa H.S. educator, had an incredible experience and now has a new found outlook on life and a deep love for all things Spanish.

Can't say that I blame him.

Congratulations John, BUEN CAMINO!

Meanwhile, back at my volunteer job . . .

I was off to another day in
the SCORCHING heat to watch
the Warriors practice

At least they held practice off until 5:00 p.m. but it was still hot.

I was very impressed by the high energy displayed by both the coaches and players despite the heat. They were definitely having a good, upbeat time at today's workout.

Great Field Turf Stadium

Working on Field Goal and
Field Goal Block

Varsity Starting DT
Victory Vaca
6-3, 360 lbs.
A 15 year old FRESHMAN!

For my friends in Europe he is 190.5 cm tall and weighs 163.3 kilos!

Probably the MVP of the Ventura County High School Football All-Name team too.

Scrimmage work with,
as usual, no tackling

Westlake looked highly polished and ready to play, I can't help but like their chances on Friday against Thousand Oaks.

Ventura County Star Week 1 Game of the Week Preparations

Tuesday, August 29, 2017:

With Week Zero of the 2017 high school football season behind us, it was time to start preparing for Friday's Week One podcast of the Westlake Warriors (1-0) at Thousand Oaks Lancers (0-1) game.

Today I was headed to Thousand Oaks H.S. to interview Lancers Head Coach Mike Leibin and to watch a little of their practice on a SIZZLING afternoon.

But first . . .

I stopped by the
California Lutheran University
football facility

The CLU campus is only about a mile from the Thousand Oaks H.S. campus and I was early for my interview.

The Kinsmen are a solid DIII program, part of the eight college Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Besides Cal Lutheran, the SCIAC includes teams from Chapman, Claremont-Mudd, La Verne, Occidental, Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Whittier

 Pass Rush Drill as I entered the field

The same drill in action

Offensive Line Drill

It was a spirited practice that I observed during my 20 minutes at CLU.

They open their season on September 9th at home vs. Pacific Lutheran University at 7:00 p.m.

I'll be there for that one to be sure.

On to . . .

Thousand Oaks H.S.

Lots of memories here as I started my teaching/coaching career at TOHS in 1970 as a JV and then Varsity assistant coach until leaving in 1978 to become Westlake H.S.'s first Head Coach in 1978.

 Defensive fit drill

Lots of fundamentals at this practice as Coach Leibin felt that the Lancers were lacking in the basics of blocking and tackling in their 14-42 loss to Ventura last Friday night.

Hope springs eternal in Lancer land despite only having seven Sophomores total in the program thus forcing them to shockingly drop their JV football team for the 2017 campaign.

News from Mexico . . .

The composite schedule for the
2017 season for the country's
private school circuit

This weekend's slate of games

I'll be interested to watch the podcast of the CU Pumas at UDLAP Aztecas game at 11:00 a.m. Pacific this Saturday morning.

Our Europe Warriors dropped a 32-35 exhibition game to the Pumas on August 12th and the Aztecas were the amazing program that we visited for three days the week after our Pumas game.

We also got to see the Aztecas play the IPN Burros Blancos in a scrimmage. They did not disappoint.

It should be an interesting contest.

On Wednesday, I will visit the Westlake H.S. campus to gain some insights into the current state of Warriors' football for Friday night's podcast.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mike and Jacob's Ninja Sharks Soccer Game

Saturday, August 26, 2017:

Billed as the "Game of the Century" by USA Today, Camarillo's Pleasant Valley Fields would be the scene of today's much anticipated duel between the purple and black Super Cheetahs and YOUR blue and black Ninja Sharks! 

Ninja Shark Head Coach
Mike Contreras preparing young
Jacob Contreras for the game

Yes, in this grass roots battle, the parking lot and the back of Mike's van would serve as the training/locker room.

Warm Up for the Ninja Sharks

The Super Cheetahs' Assistant
Coach was DJ Sotelo who went
to Rio Mesa HS with Mike's
older brother Andy

DJ's son (#4) is on the Super Cheetahs.

Jacob (#5) was happy
to be alive!

 Pre-game Huddle

Dominic is the Ninja Sharks
best player beyond a doubt

Is toe punching legal in soccer?

Jacob tracking down a Super
Cheetahs break away ball

He turned it back in favor of
the Ninja Sharks


Action near the goal

Score Ninja Sharks?


OOPS, wrong sport.

Coach-Player discussion about
#5 holding out for more Gatorade

Jacob dribbling in the
open field

Halftime Ninja Shark Camaraderie 

Ninja Sharks pressing the action

Run to the ball

Nice haircut Jacob

Ninja Shark Wall of Doom

Hey, does that one kid have tattoos on his hands?

Here come the Ninja Sharks . . .

. . . and there goes the ball

High Fives Ninja Sharks!

Post-game hand slaps

Parent Tunnel for all the players
on both teams

I think that all the kids had a good time today, I know that Laurie and I did.

If you want the final score, buy a USA Today on Monday.

Zero Week Broadcast of the Ventura County Star's High School Game-of-the-Week

Friday, August 25, 2017:

When I first started writing this blog back in December of 2007, it was primarily to keep my family informed of my doings in Catania, Sicily during my first of what has now become TEN tours of duty in the wonderful world of EuroBall.

Over the years I have discovered that I have two fans of the blog who are bordering on being stalkers but that is ok with me as they are two lifelong friends from our shared University of Washington days.

Paul Sabolic and Mike D'Antuono are their names and we had lunch together today at the BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse in Burbank.

As always, it was great to catch up with these two reprobates on all things family, American football in general and UW Husky football in particular.

As usual, when caught up in non-stop, good conversation, I forgot to have our waitress Claudia take a photo of us.

Two good men.

In the evening, I joined play-by-play broadcaster Danny Page and our ever insightful sideline reporter Will Cowen, also the Ventura College Athletic Director, to do the Zero Week broadcast of the Ventura County Star's Game-of-the-Week.

The matchup tonight was also the 43rd renewal of the crosstown rivalry between the Camarillo HS Scorpions (0-0, 2-8 in 2016) and Rio Mesa HS Spartans (0-0, 6-6 in 2016).

The Scorpions lead in the series
25-17 -0

Camarillo had also won the last six consecutive games in this Ventura County Classic.

Despite this historical edge to the Scorpions, the Spartans, ranked #1 in the C.I.F. Division VIII pre-season poll, were the favorites tonight.

It was a BEAUTIFUL night for
American football!

Rio Mesa WR Jaedon Rogers
breaking away from
Scorpion Grady Liddell

 It was a great game as both teams
battled from start to finish

The Spartans lived up to their ranking and pulled away to a 35-20 victory to open the 2017 campaign.

Up next for the 1-0 Rio Mesa Spartans is another home game, this time against the 0-1 Simi Valley Pioneers who dropped their opener 7-55 to the West Ranch Wildcats.

The 0-1 Camarillo Scorpions now have their first home game of the season hosting the 1-0 Saugus Centurions who beat the Santa Barbara Dons Friday night on the road by a final score of 25-21.

As for our broadcast team, our Game-of-the-Week next Friday is another early season derby non-league game as the 1-0 Westlake Warriors travel to crosstown to play the 0-1 Thousand Oaks Lancers.

Westlake is coming off of a huge 25-7 win over the defending California State 2-A Champion Sierra Canyon Trailblazers.

Thousand Oaks was defeated 14-42 in their opener by the Ventura Cougars.

After the game, I was joined by Joe Mollica, Koreen FitzGerald and Brian FitzGerald at Cronies to debrief.

I was missing the Europe Warriors
as soon as I saw this coaster

 Even more when I flipped it over

Friday was a good day all the way around!

Reading Is FUNdamental

Another solid effort
by Donna Leon

All of her mystery books featuring fictional Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti on the trail of more criminals are worth the read.

I have only read seven of her 26 Brunetti novels so far.

I have work to do.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Visiting with an Old Friend and a Freshman Football Game

Thursday, August 24, 2017:

Sometimes I get so absorbed in a conversation with a good friend that I have not seen in some time that I forget to have someone take our photo.

Today was on of those days as I met fellow teacher and coach from our days together at Thousand Oaks H.S. starting in 1970.

Jim O'Brien is that man. We met for lunch at the Cronies Sports Grill location in Newbury Park and proceeded to solve most of America's political and high school sports issues in just under two hours.

It was impressive!

It was really good to touch base with Jim, always a voice of reason in a chaotic world.

In the afternoon, it was time to officially start the Ventura County high school football season with a traditional Thursday afternoon Freshman game.

The Pacific View League's
Pacifica Tritons

The Camino League's
Newbury Park Panthers

Yes, it was indeed another BEAUTIFUL
day for American football!

I left at halftime with the Panthers leading 21-7.

Two of my favorite Ventura County
Head Varsity Football Coaches

Newbury Park's Jason Klein on the left and Pacifica's Mike Moon on the right.

I was fortunate enough to be a member of the coaching staff at Newbury Park for three years and gained a lot of respect for Jason.

Mike and I coached together at Rio Mesa H.S. for eight seasons and, again, he is someone whose hard work and dedication make me proud to call him a friend.

As I walked through Newbury Park's locker room I could not help but notice that each Varsity Panther has . . .

. . . TWO helmets

Two GOOD looking helmets

The University of Oregon would be jealous.

One more day until the start of the Varsity football season, YAHOO!