Scorpions wreak havoc on gridiron

Interception of a player.
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Oak Park High quarterback Jack Gerstenberger, center, gets crushed by Camarillo’s Jameson Sperling, left, and Josh Hoth. © Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers
Great defenses justify great nicknames.

There’s the Steel Curtain. Purple People Eaters. New York Sack Exchange. Monsters of the Midway.

Camarillo High football’s ferocious defense doesn’t have a clever moniker yet, but the Scorpion D is a wrecking ball.

The Scorpions (6-1 overall, 2-0 in the Pacific View League) posted a 48-0 shutout Oct. 5 against Oxnard. In six victories, Camarillo hasn’t allowed more than two scores a game entering tonight’s 7 p.m. home outing against Hueneme (1-6, 0-2).

“We’ve been doing well,” said Camarillo wide receiver/ linebacker Corbin Covey, “but we strive to be perfect.”

This offseason, the Scorpions welcomed defensive coordinator Jack Willard to the team, which thrives in the 3-5-3 system. Willard, the ACHS softball skipper, coached at Newbury Park High for a decade.

Willard injected a dose of confidence, intensity and purpose in the players. The defense has a new attitude.

“He’s a no-nonsense guy,” head coach Dennis Riedmiller said of Willard. “They play hard for him.”

Ramiro Oliveros, a defensive end, said Willard helps him break down and digest game film.

“Willard makes us review our plays. We make adjustments to everything,” said Oliveros, who has three sacks and 27 tackles. “When you watch film, you know exactly what to look for.”

Oliveros played in only one game last year and left the team because he couldn’t get car rides home after practice.

“I really want to make up for not playing last year,” Oliveros said.

“My family always supported me to play football. My mom bragged about me in football, and that was one less thing she talked about.”

Now Oliveros’ mom, Mary, gets to talk about her son playing under Friday night lights.

Jameson Sperling is the other force of nature at defensive end. Sperling leads the Scorpions with five sacks.

“We’ve stopped the run better,” Sperling said. “We’re not necessarily stronger because we were strong last year. This year, we focus on speed. Rally to the ball and make a good tackle.”

Sperling said he doesn’t care much for statistics.

“I don’t care who gets sacks,” Sperling said. “I don’t care who gets tackles as long as we win.”

Rory MacNeill (team-high 55 tackles), Josh Hoth (35 tackles and three sacks), Edgar Lopez, Justin Fontanille, Javier Chavez and Gerrick Hewitt flourish at linebacker. Nose guard Miguel Medina clogs the middle of the field. Brandon Knupp, Jake Greenwood and Blake Brockett excel in the secondary.

Camarillo’s offense hums like a ’69 Chevy Camaro Z28 under the direction of offensive coordinator Tony Pinedo, a genius, according to quarterback Travis Valdez.

The Scorpions average 36 points per game. They graduate offensive stars, plug in the next batch of skill players and keep on ticking.

“It all starts with practice,” said Valdez, who has 1,939 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 74 percent of his passes. “There’s high energy, high tempo in practice. We always try to make practice harder than games.

“We have to get better each day.”

Linemen take pride in this potent offense.

“We struggled at first during games, but we’re starting to pick it up,” said senior left guard Dan Victoria, who wrestled as a sophomore.

“This year the whole starting line is more aggressive.”

Covey leads Camarillo with 82 catches, 793 yards and seven total touchdowns.

The senior, who also plays basketball, is thankful to play after missing six games in 2011 with a broken ankle. Four screws, a metal plate and countless hours in rehab later, Covey’s blossomed into the next great Scorpion playmaker.

“I’ll never get another experience like this again,” Covey said. “Everybody that plays high school football, they’re lucky.

“I get to wear this jersey, play in front of 3,000 people. . . . This is an amazing experience.”

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