Scorpions set sights on defending PVL title

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© Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers
Senior wide receiver Luther Okeyo pulls in a pass during Tuesday’s practice at Camarillo High. The Scorpions must replace several big-name players from last year’s Pacific View League championship team, and Okeyo may be poised for a breakout. © Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers
The Scorpions were the toast of the town in 2009.

Camarillo High’s football team went 10-2 last year and won a Pacific View League championship behind record-breaking quarterback Jeff Mathews, No. 1 wide receiver Ryan Molesworth, Antonio Gates tight end clone Andy Dean and tenacious middle linebacker Cole Bernard.

Now it’s a new year for the boys in blue.

Mathews, Molesworth, Dean and Bernard are gone—but expectations and giddiness remain as high as ever. The current crop of Scorpions want to build their own legacy.

Head coach Dennis Riedmiller said his players arrived at the first day of practice in shape and ready to start hitting.

Riedmiller sees something special brewing.

“These kids work really hard, as hard as any of the teams I’ve had here,” the coach said.

“The reason they’re working so hard is the standard the 2009 team set. They don’t want to be overshadowed by that. We went 10-2. It was a great year that unfortunately ended against a great Moorpark team. Now these seniors want their own identity.”

Camarillo plays a scrimmage at Agoura on Sept. 3. ACHS opens the regular season Sept. 10 at Buena.

The Scorpions expect big things from their defense.

Riedmiller said earlier this summer that he wants the defense to keep opponents below 14 points per game.

Strong safety Alek Reeves, free safety Bobby Ferrer and cornerbacks Taylor White and Mitch Guske propel an experienced secondary led by defensive backs coach John Doleman.

“I’m going to try to do my best and put it all on the field,” said Ferrer, who could also see some time at cornerback.

William Leaupepe and Matt Valdez are returning defensive tackles. Leaupepe shared the team lead with seven sacks last season. He also added 92 tackles.

“We’re coming together pretty well,” Leaupepe said of the defense. “We lost a lot of guys. I’m returning, and I want to be an example to the other guys. I’m looking forward to a great season.”

Jordan Bricker has a grip on one defensive end starting slot. Patrick Ramirez, Francisco Ceja and Conner Hurd are competing for the other end position. All four are expected to contribute, Riedmiller said.

Mason Luna and Matt Hickman, a wrestler who placed at the state tournament, are returning senior outside linebackers.

Evan Benson, a junior, is a versatile athlete. Benson will likely play middle linebacker, halfback and punter.

Other defensive contributors could include linebackers Elliott Pineda and Ty Simon, and defensive lineman Angel Vazquez.

“A lot of kids got good playing time last year,” the coach said of his defensive linemen. “We like their experience.”

Ossie Toc is the most heralded returner on offense.

The senior running back gleaned 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground last year. Toc also nabbed 27 catches for 323 yards and a score.

“He’s very strong and very durable— knock on wood,” Riedmiller said. “He does a good job holding onto the ball. He’s a hardnosed, good football player. It’s good to have him back.”

Zandro Diaz has the thankless task of replacing Mathews behind center.

The senior quarterback played sparingly last season—he did toss two touchdowns on eight throws—but Diaz has a solid understanding of the offense.

“He knows the offense very well,” the coach said of Diaz. “He had an excellent summer passing. He is someone we expect to run our offense as well as Jeff did. That’s a lot of pressure, but he’s not shying away from it.

“If we can block for him, we think he can have a great season.”

Junior Conrad Kotake will play running back and wide receiver.

Jake Maulhardt, Brent Stevens and Luther Okeyo are the other starting wide receivers. Stevens, a junior varsity quarterback in 2009, has transitioned nicely to receiver.

Offensive line coach Art Perez is counting on solid blocking from his hogs.

Leo Anaya, a senior, will start at left tackle. He manned right tackle a year ago, and he is this line’s anchor.

Justin Dicke and Brandon Baker are in a battle for the starting right tackle gig.

Senior Dale Thompson will likely start at guard. Sophomore Brian Smith and junior Tyler Sutherland are fighting for the other guard job.

Sutherland, senior incumbent Matt Haney and junior Prescott McKenzie are competing for playing time at center.

Rick Perry, a varsity soccer standout, will lend his leg for kicking duties.

The Scorpions are ready to defend their PVL title and make a name for themselves.

“They’re striving to be better than the 2009 team,” Riedmiller said. “That’s a great goal. Whether or not they can, we’ll see.”

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