The Westlake football team was honored Tuesday night at the Conejo Valley Unified School District office for winning the Marmonte League and CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championships, but there was little reason to celebrate.
Earlier in the day, Westlake quarterback Justin Moore, the Northern Division player of the year and winner of two CIF championships, decided to end his football career and transfer to Royal High School in Simi Valley to finish out his junior and senior years.
Teammate Dashon Hunt, who is going to UCLA as a defensive back, said, "It was a big surprise to everyone."
Moore did not attend the award ceremony at the district office.
"He stayed home," Hunt said. "He didn't want to answer any questions about it. I kinda understand why he didn't go."
Hunt said Moore wants to enter the fire academy and become a firefighter, like his father. Hunt added that he didn't know if Moore wanted to go to college.
"All I know is he's going to Royal," Hunt said.
Hunt added that he supports Moore's decision and he is looking forward to working with Neil Uskali, a junior quarterback who played in six games for Westlake.
"Everybody was in shock," Hunt said. "They're saying we're going to have a bad season. We have Neil Uskali. He's capable of doing a good job. All he needs is the right amount of reps."
Westlake coach Jim Benkert said he expected a number of high school quarterbacks will be interested in playing for him next season. There is no guarantee Uskali will be the starting quarterback at Westlake in the fall. For the time being, though, Uskali looks to be the obvious choice to be the quarterback of the reigning Northern Division champs.
"I have faith in Neil," Hunt said. "We'll see what happens as it gets closer to the start of the season. It was kind of a sad day, but we have to work through it."