Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Football: No. 14 Westlake
By Sean Ceglinsky
With several standout players from last season off playing college football nowadays, Westlake hopes it can successfully reload, rather than rebuild. And initially, it appears as if the Warriors have some of the pieces of the puzzle in place to get the job done quickly.
Westlake figures to go as far as Justin Moore takes it this season. In the past, the junior quarterback was an attentive understudy to Nick Isham, a three-year starter before signing with Louisiana Tech. Moore's job won't be any easier following the departure of Nelson Spruce and Tavior Mowry, both of whom graduated after being integral parts in the program in the past.
Nevertheless, optimism remains high on campus. Westlake, after all, is used to dealing with a high turnover. Coach Jim Benkert and his boys have been down this road before.
Here is a closer look at the Warriors:
Coach: Jim Benkert, 23rd year.
2010 Record: 12-2, lost in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship game.
Returning starters: 12 total. Seven on offense. Five on defense.
Key players on offense: QB Justin Moore, WR Cody Tuttle.
Key players on defense: DL Justin Solis (Colorado commit), DB Dashon Hunt (UCLA commit), DL John Stuart, DL Shayne Henley, LB David Ortiz.
Difference maker: Moore, who takes over underneath center. It will be interesting to see how much information has been retained thus far and how he applies the things he has learned. One thing is certain: The 6-foot, 175-pounder is a playmaker. If Moore does not get things done with his arm, rest assured, the multifaceted underclassman will get things done with his feet.
Not to be missed: vs. Oaks Christian, Thursday Oct. 6. The Warriors will be revenge-minded in this Marmonte League showdown, especially after narrowly losing, 29-28, to the Lions in the Northern Division title game a season ago. When it comes to bulletin-board material, none is needed between these two crosstown rivals. Both know how much is at stake every time they meet.
Coach’s comment: “Here we go again, football time. We like the group we have here too, they all seem to know what is expected of them. These kids understand we don't have many easy games on our schedule. When we step out there on the field, we expect to be challenged most times. Our guys are not going to back down from anyone. We're ready to get things started.''
Final analysis: If the Warriors plan on duplicating their success from last year, plenty will depend on the play of Moore. Good thing for him is, the whole offensive line returns, more than likely a year stronger and wiser. On the defensive side of the ball, the unit also remains largely intact. That said, Westlake appears poised to make some noise again this season, from start to finish.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.