Before the 2012 high school football season, Charlie Wegher, the head coach of the Agoura football team, did his best Joe Namath impression.
Well, not really. Wegher was a high school and college quarterback, but in this case, the Namath reference has to do with a prediction. Or more accurately, as it is known in Super Bowl lore, a guarantee.
In the week leading up to Super Bowl III, played on January 12, 1969, Joe "Willie" as Namath was nicknamed, guaranteed that his New York Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.
For his part, Wegher's guarantee was a little more earthly. He said that his Chargers would surpass their win total from last year, which was one.
And, indeed, on Friday the Chargers, in only the fourth game, won their second game of the season. And it's still September.
"I told them (Friday) night, 'You guys have doubled the wins from last year,'' Wegher said. "So that's exciting. And I think we have a chance to add a few more games to that."
Agoura beat Golden Valley, 17-10, in a game played at Agoura High School. The Chargers won their season opener in overtime against Oak Park, also at home. In between, Agoura has lost twice on the road against Ventura High and Newbury Park.
This Friday, the Chargers will travel to Simi Valley to play undefeated Royal, which is 3-0.
The win over Golden Valley really began during last Monday's practice
Wegher said that, notwithstanding a rash of injuries that contributed to the losses at Ventura and Newbury Park, certain things needed to be addressed during the first practice session last week.
"The thing that we looked at on film was that our kids were being very undisciplined," he said. "They weren't doing what we were coaching them to do, so that was the emphasis (last) week in practice."
It started, literally, with stretching before practice. And it took 40 minutes on Monday before the coaches thought the players had stretched properly.
"It was 100 degrees out there and they weren't real happy about that, but we had some leaders step up and they started putting pressure on the team and that was the emphasis all week."
And it showed in the results.
Agoura's offensive line played its best game of the season and, therefore, the game plan worked well. The idea was to control the clock and with the running game working, the Chargers were able to do that.
Sean Bar, a junior running back, led Agoura with 83 yards on 14 carries. Agoura (2-2) jumped out to a 9-0 lead after the first quarter.
"We got some execution," Wegher said. He noted about the improved play of the offensive line: "Kids were using the correct footwork, reading the correct keys, and doing things the way we want them to do it. And the results were pretty good."
Robert Webb and Sam Ruben, both juniors, returned at guard after missing action due to injuries. Unfortunately, Ruben suffered a concussion against Golden Valley and may miss the game against Royal this Friday.
But Caleb Maxey, a senior, replaced Ruben in the second half against Golden Valley and did well.
"The offensive line really improved from last week," said Wegher "Granted, Golden Valley is not Newbury Park, but still, I thought that our kids were doing what they were supposed to be doing. And that's what we're most excited about - the improvement."
Agoura has improved its turnovers ratio from last year
Wegher said that Agoura still made some mistakes when it was inside Golden Valley's 20-yard line, and therefore, the final score could have been more decisive in the Chargers' favor. There is still room for improvement.
But unlike last year, Agoura is winning the battle of turnovers.
"The thing that I've been happy with about our team is we're way on the plus side in turnovers," Wegher said. "That's the thing that's been really different than the last two years."
Another bright spot has been the play of junior quarterback Jack Barmasse, who took over the second game of the season, against Ventura, because of an injury to senior quarterback Richard Poutier.
"He was relaxed and did a good job," Wegher said. "He ran the ball well, did some nice things throwing the ball. That hasn't been an issue for us - the quarterback position. Jack's been fine and I've been really happy with the production we've gotten."
Barmasse completed 13 of 23 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown in the win over Golden Valley (0-3). The TD pass was to Andrew Costin, who had four receptions. Shawn Kagan led the Chargers with six catches and Kevin Adams had three.
Still, when Poutier gets healthy, the Agoura coach said he will return as the starter.
"He's not going to lose his job because he got hurt," Wegher said. But he added that it isn't a certainty that Poutier will be ready to play the October 5 Marmonte League opener at Oaks Christian.
The defense also played well against Golden Valley
Agoura held Golden Valley to 10 points and there were many Chargers who stood out on the defensive side of the ball.
Luke Duff, a junior linebacker, had 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles, eight of which were unassisted. Senior linebacker Tristram Gillette had nine unassisted tackles and 10 overall.
Richard Nguyen, a junior linebacker, had 1.5 sacks and five tackles. Sean Bar, Kevin Adams and Sean Pawlak all were in on six tackles and Cody Banks, who also scored on a 12-yard touchdown run, notched five tackles.
The defense will probably face a tougher test against Royal. The Highlanders also played Golden Valley, defeating the Grizzlies 24-20 in both team's season opener on August 31.
Wegher saw the tape of the Golden Valley - Royal game.
"They look a lot like last year," he said about Royal, which beat Agoura in 2011. "They're going to run the ball and bootleg. They play tough defense. It's a game - if we continue to get better and we play well - I think we have a good shot at it."
Wegher said he planned to address, at Monday's practice, the need to play better away from the friendly confines of Frank Greminger Field.
"It's important to be able to win a competitive game on the road, and this is our chance," he said. "We haven't had real good success thus far, away from Agoura. We're going to work on that."