The Agoura football had a bye on Friday, September 28, but that didn't mean the Chargers were on vacation.
Instead, the team was preparing for its sternest two-game test of the 2012 season.
It began last Friday night in Westlake Village at perennial powerhouse Oaks Christian.
The Lions prevailed, 35-0, but it was a night in which the Chargers played hard, weren't afraid, and left knowing that, except for a couple of mistakes, the game could have been closer.
"I thought our kids played really hard," said Charlie Wegher, Agoura's longtime head coach. "You know, we really only gave up three touchdowns to their offense."
Indeed, each of Agoura's quarterbacks, Richard Poutier, a senior, and Jack Barmasse, a junior, threw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns by the adept and speedy Oaks Christian defense.
Poutier, who was back from an injury that kept him sidelined since the first game of the season, an overtime win over Oak Park on August 24, played most of the game.
He drove the Chargers from their own 18-yard line to the Lions' two, early in the second quarter. A score could have tied the game, 7-7. However, on first and goal, Agoura lost four yards.
Then, on second and goal from the Oaks Christian six, Poutier was victimized by Cameron Judge, a senior linebacker for the Lions.
Judge said he had figured out the Agoura audibles and read what was coming when he stepped in front of a Chargers' receiver, intercepted Poutier's pass and ran 100 yards for a momentum-changing score.
"It's the old adage, you live by the sword, you die by the sword," said Oaks Christian's first-year coach Jeff Woodruff, noting that the interception came about because Judge made a heads-up play in not allowing Poutier to know he sensed what was coming.
"It's a chess match," Woodruff said. "And it ended up in our favor."
Poutier completed 9 of 14 passes for 83 yards with two interceptions.
"I thought (Poutier) executed fairly well, other than that one throw," Wegher said. "He drove the offense a couple of times. He ran the ball well and he played well, and I felt that's what I would get this week because he practiced really well."
Barmasse, who performed well in the four games in which Poutier was injured, completed 2 of 6 passes. Nick Cerreta, a junior, also played at quarterback, completing the one pass he threw.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have gotten that touchdown on our second possession," said Wegher. "But I thought that the kids came out and they weren't intimidated and they played as hard as they could.
"There's not much more I could have asked for."
Agoura had tried to prepare to not give up big plays against Oaks Christian. But that's easier said than done. The Lions have a lot of talent. And, to the chagrin of the other Marmonte League teams, a lot of it is young talent.
Two minutes after the length-of-the-field interception return by Judge, Oaks Christian's Francis Owusu, a 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver, broke an open field tackle and proceeded to dash 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 21-0 lead.
In the third quarter, a Barmasse pass was intercepted and returned 53 yards for a TD by Jeremy Vincent, a sophomore safety for Oaks Christian.
"That was the difference, really," Wegher said of the Lions' big-play ability.
The Chargers coach noted that he thought his team's offense played better in the first half, but that overall, he was pleased with his players' effort.
"I think there is a moral victory that you take away from it," Wegher said. "We did hold their offense to three touchdowns and we did some things better than we have in the past few weeks."
The second part of the two-game stretch is at Moorpark on Friday night at 7 p.m. (Read a preview of the game, here, tomorrow.)