Evidence is the Camarillo High boys’ golf team. While its bottom three players have been a little up and down so far, the Scorpions are undefeated this season, including a perfect 3-0 start in Pacific View League play. Much of the credit must go to the team’s big three of Johnny Ruiz, Bryce Haynes and Joe Ahn, all who have games that warrant being the No. 1 player on the team.
The three juniors are playing at an exceptionally high level, giving coach Bill Dowden hope his team can make some serious noise in the postseason.
“Our goal is to win league and hopefully advance to the CIF-SS team finals,” Dowden said. “We need consistency out of our 4, 5, and 6 spots, but having those three at the top makes things a lot easier.”
While Camarillo is the favorite to win the title, familiar foes Oxnard and Rio Mesa figure to make things interesting. Rio Mesa is a veteran team with six returning players. They are led by Chad McLay who is currently averaging 74.3. His brother, freshman Kyle McLay, has added strength and is the No. 3 player. First-year coach Gordy Abellera said his team is steadily improving.
He credits former Spartan Clyde Buque, who is a PGA instructor at Calabasas Country Club and has been helping out.
Oxnard coach David Sveiven isn’t sure his team can catch Camarillo or Rio Mesa, but is optimistic they can earn a playoff spot. The Yellowjackets have three returners in junior Kiwi Sveiven and sophomores Gregory Brown and Chris Chennault.
Pacifica, led by Josh Sedeno and Matthew Guerrero, have hopes of stealing a playoff spot as well.
Westlake and Thousand Oaks are in the midst of a great battle for the Marmonte League title, Longtime Warriors coach Dave Costley recently retired, but he left new coach Rick Naranjo well stocked with talent. Westlake is the deepest team in the county. They are led by Brandon Kelley but also get strong support from players like Tyler Soosman, Brock Drogosch and Sean Crocker.
Thousand Oaks is also deep. Coach Rod Stillwell’s team is led by returning seniors Nate Fisher and Zach DeBruno and sophomore Dane Walton. Junior Danny McLaughlin has also been very solid.
Calabasas, led by Walker Huddy, looks like it will nail down the third spot, but the final playoff spot is up for grabs among teams like Simi Valley, Newbury Park and Royal.
After first-year coach Casey Piper gave his team a strong talking to, Simi Valley has played better. The Pioneers are led by Joe Deflavio and Reno Gregory. Royal counts on strong play from No. 1 player Bobby Holden and has also gotten some big contributions from freshman David Stitt. Newbury Park’s top player is Mason Atkins and while Moorpark is led by talented sophomore Thomas Lim.
With more than half of the Tri-Valley League tournaments having been played, Oaks Christian has all but wrapped up the league title. Coach Tom Placke is excited about his team’s talent and potential.
“It’s the first team that I’ve had in three years that has been capable of breaking 400,” Placke said. “We are an extremely young team that plays solid golf now, but has the potential to be one of the strongest in Southern California over the next few years.” Senior Branden Casillas, a transfer from New York, and Jack Orue, a sophomore, who played at Westlake last year, lead the Lions. Freshman Victor Ponte and sophomore Jackson Sullivan are also key contributors.
Oak Park is solid No. 2, Bruce Beck’s team is led by Connor Paden, Jake Orens and Alex Kim. The race for the final playoff spot is wide open with St. Bonaventure, Grace Brethren and Nordhoff in the mix. Junior Troy Rice has stepped into the No. 1 spot for St. Bonaventure and is playing solid golf. Freshman Michael Pfaff has been a great edition. Grace Brethren is also fighting for that spot. They are led by Cameron Dishman. Nordhoff’s best player is Rocky Hall.
The race in the Channel League appears wide open and both Ventura and Buena believe they can grab one of the three playoff spots. Ventura coach Fella Scoggin said he has young, but good team. Sophomore Gregory Robarge leads the way. Erik Thorbecke is a returning letterman who has also been playing solid golf. Buena will also be in the mix with standouts Jared Raschke and Dirk Guthrie providing a strong one-two punch for the Bulldogs.