The Agoura football team had its final major tuneup for the 2012 football season when it hosted Nordhoff High Friday under the lights on a still-too-warm night in town.
Although Nordhoff scored more points in the scrimmage, the scoreboard read 33-20 afterwards, the game doesn't count on either team's record. The big question is whether the Chargers are ready for their season opener this Friday night at home against Oak Park.
And did the matchup with Nordhoff, of Ojai, help in that preparation.
"From what we saw on film, they're pretty similar," said Agoura coach Charlie Wegher, when asked to compare Nordhoff with Oak Park. "They like to do the same kinds of things, so that was a good way to get ready."
Oak Park and Nordhoff both play in the Tri-Valley League, so they face each other every year. During the regular season finale for both teams last year, Nordhoff defeated the Eagles, 44-26. Nordhoff finished 4-0 to win the league and was 7-5 overall, including a devastating 34-33 loss to Torrance in the CIF quarterfinals.
"In the Marmonte League, teams really air it out," said Richard Poutier, Agoura's senior quarterback. "So this (the Nordhoff scrimmage) was really good practice for Oak Park. They run about the same offense."
Poutier, of course, was referring to the Marmonte League's propensity for passing. Oak Park and Nordhoff probably both have more balanced attacks, and so the scrimmage was a good chance to oppose a team that runs the ball well.
"They ran the ball on us, that was the thing," Wegher said. "Our defense wasn't able to stop them from muscling us. And so we need to get better at that."
Oak Park finished 3-8 last year, but by virtue of going 2-2 in the Tri-Valley League, it did get a playoff berth. But the Eagles were beaten in the first round, 42-19, against Cabrillo.
Nordhoff blocked an Agoura punt and turned it into the opening score of the scrimmage. The Chargers responded with a touchdown of their own when Poutier hit receiver Andrew Costin for a 73-yard score.
But at times Agoura was it's own worst enemy.
"It just seemed like every drive there was a penalty or something else that would kills us," said Wegher.
On the plus side: "Other than the blocked punt, our kicking game was pretty decent," Wegher said. "We had a nice kick return and offensively, we did a few things."
Agoura's Sean Bar, who had the lengthy kickoff return, was also the recipient of Poutier's second touchdown pass.
Wegher told his team after the game that it needed to play without the nervousness that he thought his players showed against Nordhoff. And Poutier agreed with that assessment.
"Last year against Ventura, I was a deer in the headlights by halftime," Poutier said about his first varsity start as a junior last season. "I was really nervous. Now I've had a taste of it. A lot of the juniors who played J.V. last year, they didn't know what varsity football looked like, so they finally got a taste.
"I told them, 'Turn the nerves into some swagger,'" Pouter said. "'Start to play with confidence; know you're going to dominate your guy before you even touch him; see the play before it happens; go out and do your job and then we'll line up for the next play."
Poutier credited the Agoura offensive line for playing well against Nordhoff. He also said the juniors played well, overall.
Wegher said the scrimmage revealed positives but also things that need to be ironed out.
"I think we did some good things, offensively," he said. "But there's a lot of things we've got to fix. And defensively, we just weren't tough enough. So we've got to be a little more physical. It was a good way to start, to see what we need to do to improve."
The senior quarterback and the head coach are both happy the season is upon them.
"The hard work is definitely paying off," Poutier said. "A lot of what I'm thinking is that it's my last year and I can't leave anything on the field."
Wegher said it would be a welcome relief if the new season signals the end of the oppressive heat.
"Yeah, I'm glad it's finally here," he said. "Hopefully, it gets this weather behind us and we can get some football weather.
"I'm ready to go after it."