2012-08-23 / Sports

Thousand Oaks

Lancers want to turn small steps into big success
By Eliav Appelbaum


NOWHERE TO GO—Senior center Tom McNutt is an anchor on the offensive line for Thousand Oaks High. The third-year starter has recovered from a broken arm he suffered against St. Bonaventure last season. 
WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers NOWHERE TO GO—Senior center Tom McNutt is an anchor on the offensive line for Thousand Oaks High. The third-year starter has recovered from a broken arm he suffered against St. Bonaventure last season. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers Head coach: Mike Leibin (sixth season)

2011 results: 8-5 (5-4 in league); CIF semifinalist

Every year, the Thousand Oaks High football team tries to get a little better.

The Lancers get a little faster, a little stronger, a little tougher.

In his sixth season as head coach, Mike Leibin has TOHS ready to rock—and not just to the raucous music blaring during practice.

The Lancers reached the CIFSouthern Section Northern Division semifinals against eventual champion Westlake last year, their deepest postseason run since 1989.

And Thousand Oaks doesn’t just hope for another good season— the Lancers thirst for it like a great white shark smelling blood in the water.

“We’ve stayed the course,” Leibin said. “Every year, we’ve done things better, I believe.”

The goals remain grand.

Thousand Oaks wants to win all its non-league games, qualify for the playoffs, secure a Marmonte League championship and win a CIF-Southern Section championship, Leibin said.

Coaches reinforce the school’s proud football history.

The team upgraded the film and weight rooms. At the stadium entrance, there’s a stone slab with the giant letters: “T.O.”

Then there’s the Lancer Football Wall of Fame.

Encased within acrylic boards inside the film room, a rich history of Thousand Oaks football records, achievements and standouts is detailed.

“I call it the ‘wall of aspiration,’” Leibin said. “If you’re somewhere on here, you did something right.”

Clark Abourisk is part of the living history.

The senior quarterback wears No. 7, just like his predecessors Avondre Bollar, Ryan Cloney and Ben Olson.

“You’ve got to feel that pressure,” Abourisk said. “You’ve got to THOUSAND hold up that legacy.”

The quarterback, OAKS who said the Lancers @ Thousand have a “hard-working, September blue-collar mentality,” is a steady force in the pocket. Abourisk said he feels prepared mentally and physically.

“It’s not learning, it’s refining,” he said. “It’s coming out here wanting to be perfect and to compete at the highest level.”

Abourisk has robust targets, including senior tight end Andrew

Van Voy and receivers (and baseball standouts) AJ Sheehan, a senior, and Nick Julier, a junior.

Sheehan is a consistent route-runner who knows the intricacies of the system. OAKS Van Voy is a big, physical target CHRISTIAN who can overpower Oaks High most defensive

28 - 7 PM backs.

Max Player, a senior safety and wideout, is also a threat.

Running back Nathan De-

Beikes joins Abourisk in a loaded backfield. DeBeikes, a senior who committed to Brigham Young

University, put on 15 pounds of muscle, Leibin said.

“He’s a tough kid,” Leibin said of Debeikes, who also suits up at inside linebacker. “He’s a good leader.”

Senior linebacker Matt Singleton is a tackling machine.

Senior center Tom McNutt (5-foot-9, 260 pounds), senior left guard Michael Manos (6-1, 230) and senior right tackle Mustafa Naghshbandi (6-2, 250) bolster an offensive line that welcomes junior left tackle Matt Spadaro and senior right guard Ryan Chavez.

The big, nasty line is ready to rule the trenches.

“We work together,” said Mc- Nutt, an honors student. “We know what to expect from each other.”

Thousand Oaks is ready to make history come alive this fall.

“We’re ready to go,” Abourisk said. “We’re ready to get at it.”

PLAYER TO WATCH

Clark Abourisk

The quarterback rarely makes mistakes under duress. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior has a knack for completing clutch passes and winning close games. Abourisk honed his skills this summer by attending a half-dozen college camps, from Harvard to UC Davis. Head coach Mike Leibin said the QB improved his arm strength and grasp of the offense. Abourisk is considering playing in the Ivy or Patriot leagues. A big sports fan who keeps the channel locked in to ESPN, Abourisk enjoys fishing trips with teammates.

TOP RETURNERS

Nathan DeBeikes, senior
RB/LB
Andrew Van Voy, senior
TE/DE
Michael Manos, senior
LG/DL
Matt Singleton, senior
LB/TE
Max Player, senior
WR/DB
AJ Sheehan, senior
WR/DB
Tom McNutt, senior
C/DL

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