Westlake travels to face Newbury Park 364 days after the Panthers pulled off a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to topple the Warriors 43-40 in 2016.
The Warriors, who are averaging 41 points a game through the first two weeks of this season, hope they can keep the good times rolling with some revenge against the Black Cat Attack.
“Whichever team comes out of this on top is going to have a lot of momentum for the season,” said Westlake quarterback Jake Kaplinski. “It’s going to be a big win for us.”
Kaplinski said he’s confident in his offense, which flaunts a plethora of weapons, including Nathan Brooks, Michael Carner, Nick Silver, Jason Heller and Carson Kuhl.
“We have so many playmakers,” said senior tight end and defensive end Isaac Berger. “We can tear their defense up.”
The Warriors will have to outpace a Newbury Park offense that’s averaging 52 points per game. Quarterback Cameron Rising, who has connected on 74 percent of passes for 552 yards and six scores, guides the Panthers into battle.
Westlake head coach Tim Kirksey admits it’ll be a challenge trying to contain the Texas commit, who rushed for two touchdowns in a rout of Agoura last weekend.
“He’s going to make plays, and we know that,” Kirksey said of Rising. “When we face adversity, we’re going to have to fall to the level of our training to get through the moments. I expect we’ll be fine.”
Westlake will rely on a platoon of defensive linemen Friday night, including Cameron Kohler, Victory Vaka (a freshman), Nick Villari, Seth Figgins and Berger.
It’ll take more than collapsing the pocket to neutralize Rising.
“It’s important to get pressure on (Rising), but we also have to wait for him to scramble out,” Berger said. “We have to be patient for both. We can’t overpursue anything.”
Westlake must also account for Newbury Park running back Josh Madison, who has racked up 216 rush yards and five touchdowns in two weeks. He recently committed to Iowa State.
“He’s an absolute big-time Division I football player,” Kirksey said of Madison, who also plays safety. “The way he plays the game is awesome. He’s fun to watch.”
Newbury Park also has lethal weapons of its own in Ruben Soria, Marquis Allen, Ian Albaeck, Cole Peterson and Stone Martin.
“I have a lot of confidence in us right now,” said Madison, who missed last year’s game with an injury. “I’m excited for all of us to come out and show what we have.”
Westlake cornerbacks Jalen Turner and Kamren Fabiculanan will be tasked with trying to keep the Panther air assault in check.
Players on both sides understand the importance of coming out of this clash with the win.
“It’s one of those games you circle on your calendar when you see your schedule just because of the relationship between the two schools,” Newbury Park head coach Jason Klein said. “There’s nothing we have to do to pump the guys up.”
Players to Watch
WestlakeDE Isaac Berger
DE Cameron Kohler
DT Victory VakaCB Kamren Fabiculanan
CB Jalen Turner
DE Kyle Stanback
OLB TJ Davis
CB Carson Falsken
S/RB Josh Madison
S/WR Marquis Allen