Two years ago on this page we celebrated Calabasas High School’s first ever CIF football title. Giddy times indeed for a team that had won only nine out of 100 games—that’s nine wins and 91 losses—from 2004 to 2013.
But like many competing schools and jealous rivals, The Acorn questioned at the time how the sad-sack program could jump from cellar to penthouse practically overnight. Impossible, everyone said.
CHS didn’t effect a slow, season-by-season cultural change, its turnaround instead tainted by a Coyote roster that relied on a sudden influx of flashy out-of-district transfers, many of whom didn’t even know where Calabasas was until they were ushered into town by eager parent and coach recruiters—or so the critics said.
For a program reveling in victory after being down in the dumps so long, the criticism was hard to swallow for the Calabasas community. The frustration is easy to understand because, in reality, the team didn’t flaunt the rules; it adapted to the new age of high school football masterfully by accepting interdistrict transfers and weaving them into the fresh new fabric of Calabasas football.
Las Virgenes Superintendent of Schools Dan Stepenosky and CHS head coach Casey Clausen watched like hawks to make sure these new Coyotes played by the book.
We’ve also since learned that the CHS football leaders worked within the system to produce a program where winning on the field and succeeding in the classroom are equally important. And if that’s wrong, then it’s hard to know what’s right.
And while we remain skeptical of the new paradigm that is making high school football in general more like the college and pro game, we appreciate that Calabasas appears to be playing by the same rules that govern all other local teams. Win or lose, just try to do it fairly.
You can’t ask for more.
Which bring us to today’s special Page 1 coverage of the Calabasas High School football program. The Coyotes christened their new turf field with a stunning 65-63 victory over Valencia last week, and the mood at Keith Ritchie Stadium couldn’t have been more electrifying.
In Calabasas, the Friday night lights are back on high beam.