Oct. 15, 2004. It’s a date that will forever live in Marmonte football lore.
Looking back on the one-year anniversary of The Play, it’s safe to say that the immediate fate of the two high school football programs involved was altered on that cool October evening.
When last year’s game had finally ended amid a hodgepodge of confusion, excitement, anger, jubilation and sadness, Westlake had prevailed over Agoura, 3027, on a 55-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by running back Jeff Rapoport with no time remaining on the clock.
Rapoport’s game-winning score was pure madness.
The ball was lateraled by Westlake’s Garrett Carpenter and then fumbled by both Jason Berg and Sean Gittens before Rapoport scooped up the football and dodged a pair of would-be tacklers, fans and an opposing coach or two, before scampering into the end zone for the winning score.
The referees convened on the field and decided the final whistle had never blown, thus awarding the win to Westlake.
With the exception of the band and the trombone player, it was a reincarnation of the Cal-Stanford finish, circa 1982.
“When the last play occurred, if you look at the film from both angles, his knee was down, it’s pretty clear,” Agoura head coach Charlie Wegher said. “But that’s part of football, and all you can do as a coach is take what you can that’s positive out of it and move onto the next week. That’s what we did.”
Wegher, who was the starting quarterback for Westlake when the Warriors won their first Marmonte League championship in 1982 and is also a member of the team’s Hall of Fame, said he still hears about The Play when he’s around town.
“People want to talk about it all the time,” Wegher said.
Westlake head coach Jim Benkert said he only watched the ending of last year’s thriller the week after the game. Since then, he said, it’s been a distant memory.
“It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things,” Benkert said. “Everything had to happen properly to have that thing happen. It was something that will definitely be with me forever, but it’s not something that I’ll watch all the time. It’s over.”
As strange as the ending to the 2004 game was, it’s been the drastic fall from grace for Westlake that occurred shortly thereafter that may be even harder to explain.
After defeating Agoura, the Warriors lost two of their final four games and missed the postseason for the first time since 1993.
This year, Westlake was devastated early by a series of injuries to some of the team’s top talent, including a season-ending ankle injury suffered by running back Jeff Rapoport in Week 3.
With physical setbacks and untimely miscues taking their toll, the Warriors are off to a 1-5 start, including a 0-3 mark in league, and are all but assured of missing out on the postseason for the second consecutive year.
Since losing to Westlake, Agoura has seen its fortunes take a totally different route.
The Chargers reeled off six consecutive victories after the Westlake game before finally being upended by Ventura in the Division IV semifinal playoffs.
As kickoff approaches, Agoura and Westlake seem to be heading in opposite directions. But they’ll always be linked by a play that has since altered the course of Marmonte football.
Players to Watch
WR J.T. Wright WR Orel Tagai
QB Ryan Campbell
WR Erik Schneider
LB Josh Irvin CB/WR Marlon Bills
DL Eric Wells
Fast Facts Westlake hasn’t lost to Agoura since 1995 and is 15
2 all-time vs. the Chargers. . . .Agoura head coach Charlie Wegher coached under Jim Benkert for three
seasons before changing schools. . . .Westlake has won six Marmonte titles since 1982. . . .Agoura has
two CIF semifinal appearences since 2001.
DL Jeff Miller