After three straight road losses and, with a bye week added, the Agoura football team has not played a home game in five weeks.
That will finally change tonight when the Chargers host Thousand Oaks in a Marmonte League West Division game at 7 p.m at Frank Greminger Stadium at Agoura High School.
Agoura head coach Charlie Wegher said returning home, after losses at Royal, Oaks Christian and Moorpark, will give the Chargers a lift against Thousand Oaks.
“We’ve had great fans, big crowds this year,” he said. “We won both games we played at home.”
Agoura (2-5 overall and 0-2 in the Marmonte League West) beat Oak Park in the season opener and Golden Valley on September 14. But they haven’t played at home since.
“It’s been a long road,” Shawn Kagan said, emphasizing the word long by extending it for a few seconds. “It’s really exciting (to get back home).”
Kagan, a senior wide receiver/defensive back, said that despite the most recent loss, a 42-7 defeat at Moorpark, the Chargers would rebound.
“We don’t like losing, and it was a tough loss,” Kagan said. “But we’ll bounce back. We’re a bounce back team. We flush it and move on to the next game and focus on Thousand Oaks. And we can win that game. We’re going to win.”
Wegher said he and his players will be buoyed by having their last three regular season games at home.
“We have three games left and we feel like we match up a little better these last three games than we did the last two,” he said. “We’re going to line up and see if we can play better against Thousand Oaks,”
Thousand Oaks (4-4, 1-2), ended a three-game losing streak last week with a 17-7 win over struggling Calabasas. But like Agoura, the Lancers were defeated handily by Oaks Christian and Moorpark.
“They kind of had the same experience with Moorpark and Oaks Christian that we had,” said Wegher, with a chuckle. “So we feel like it’s a little bit more competitive and we’re kind of excited to be at home this week and for the next two games after that.”
Agoura hosts Calabasas next Friday night, then will also host the Marmonte League Divisional game against an opponent to be determined (most likely Royal or Simi Valley) by the leagues’ East and West Standings after next Friday night.
Wegher said Thousand Oaks will present challenges tonight.
“They’re big up front,” he said of the Lancers’ offensive and defensive lines. “They’ve got an excellent quarterback and an excellent running back. And they’ve got good coaches that do a good job preparing their kids, so we know it’s going to be hard.”
Clark Abourisk and Nathan Debeikes, both seniors, are the Thousand Oaks’ quarterback and top running back, respectively. Case Cookus and Nick Julier, both juniors, have emerged as the Lancers’ top two receivers in recent weeks.
Wegher said Richard Poutier, the Chargers’ senior quarterback, and Jack Barmasse, a junior quarterback who played well in Poutier’s absence due to injury for four games, will both get playing time as was the case at Oaks Christian and Moorpark.
Barmasse led Agoura on to its one scoring drive last week against Moorpark. Poutier had more success driving the offense the week before at Oaks Christian.
“They’re both capable of moving the team,” Wegher said. “It’s good to keep them both practicing an equal amount. When they compete against each other I think it helps them get better. And I have reasons for playing both of them.
“Its Richard’s senior year, he’s worked hard and he’s a returning starter. Jack’s a junior, so you want to get him some experience for next year. He’s earned playing time because he’s done well. I envision them both playing.”
On the injury front, Robert Webb and Sam Ruben, both junior linemen, will play after missing the Moorpark game. Backup quarterback Nick Cerreta, a junior, will be out after injuring his knee against Moorpark.
Bryan Hochberg, a senior wide receiver/linebacker, who led the Chargers with seven receptions in the win over Oak Park, is still recovering from a broken ankle incurred late during that game.
“It’s the worst thing, I hate to see those early-season injuries to seniors,” Wegher said. “It’s just really a heartbreaker.”