The Agoura football team was hoping to end the season with two straight wins. After its exciting win over Calabasas the week before, the Chargers had high hopes for the their second meeting with Royal High of Simi Valley.
However, the Highlanders thwarted those hopes when they came to Frank Greminger Stadium at Agoura High School and defeated the Chargers, 17-14, last Friday night.
“It was very disappointing,” said Agoura head coach Charlie Wegher. “We played a great defensive game. We only gave up 10 points – a touchdown and a field goal. But we kind of squandered that with our offense, which was really inconsistent.”
Royal’s winning touchdown came with 8:36 left in the game when Dylan Boyce intercepted a pass from Chargers’ quarterback Richard Poutier and returned it 46 yards for the go-ahead score.
Down 17-14 with one final chance, Poutier’s last-gasp pass was also intercepted, this time by Weston Jaeger, and the three-point margin held for Royal. Although the pass was caught in the end zone, it was characterized by Wegher as a “Hail Mary.”
“We just couldn’t find a rhythm offensively,” said Wegher, who was watching film of the game when he received the phone call for an interview.
“I don’t feel like I called a really good game,” he said. “Now, looking at the tape, I did not do a good job. I think there are other things we could have done. But we didn’t execute particularly well. That’s the deal.”
Wegher is the Chargers’ offensive coordinator as well as the head coach.
“I felt really good going into the game,” he said. “I felt like we had a good plan. We did (have a good plan) defensively; but offensively, we just didn’t score enough points to win.”
Wegher was hesitant to try a game-tying field goal when he could have because Agoura's kicking game had struggled this fall. The idea was to go for the game-winning touchdown or get closer for a shorter field goal.
However, too much of the clock ticked off and the final play, the “Hail Mary,” began with only one second remaining from the Royal 25-yard line. That means it would have been a 42-yard field goal, a distance unrealistic for the Agoura kickers to make.
The Chargers had been at the 15-yard line earlier in the drive, but Poutier was sacked and the chance for a 32-yard field goal, still a difficult kick based on the Chargers’ kicking game, was lost.
Agoura, which ends 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the Marmonte League, won two more games than last year, and maybe as importantly, its lower level teams improved.
“Last year our whole program won four games,” Wegher said. "This year we won 13. I thought that was good.”
The Chargers’ J.V. went 5-5 and the freshmen team was 4-6.
“We’re improving,” Wegher said. “We have more kids in our program and I think we’re getting some good kids out of our youth program, right now. So we’re just going to get back to work and keep going.”
Agoura had big wins in the first game of the season, an overtime victory over Oak Park, and the ninth game of the year when they beat Calabasas in thrilling fashion, 41-38. The Chargers also beat Golden Valley in Game 4.
The two losses to Royal were difficult because each came by less than a touchdown. The Highlanders (6-4, 2-3) defeated Agoura, 24-18, on September 28, in a contest that didn’t count in the league standings.
“We could have conceivably been 5-5 with a couple of breaks or some better execution,” said Wegher. “Both Royal games were winnable.”
Because of the Chargers improvement from last year on all levels of the program and because of how many varsity players will be back, there is reason to feel good about the prospects for 2013.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good football ahead,” said Wegher, who noted that only 10 seniors were on this year’s squad and 24 underclassmen will be returning (including two who weren’t able to play this fall).
Two of the key returning players will be running back Sean Bar and quarterback Jack Barmasse. Bar ran for 106 yards on 19 carries against Royal after rushing for 173 yards on 21 attempts the week before against Calabasas. Bar and Barmasse are juniors.
“I knew he was going to be good, once he got a little chance to play varsity football, and once we started featuring him more,” Wegher said of Bar. “When he was a freshman, I knew he was very talented. He’s going to be one of our guys next year.”
Barmasse started the four games that Poutier missed – Games 2 through 5 – and completed 13 of 23 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in the win over Golden Valley.
“We’ve got an experienced quarterback coming back who is very talented,” said Wegher. “He’s got a lot of upside.”
The Chargers will also have a lot of returning linemen and linebackers, as well as defensive backs and receivers.
Trenton Eiberg, Robert Webb, Sam Ruben and Josh Housemen, all juniors, will be back as linemen. Max Sieling, who didn’t play until the final game of the season, could also add depth there.
Bar plays linebacker on defense and will be joined there again next year by Richard Nguyen, Luke Pedroza and Luke Duff, all juniors.
Kevin Adams, Pedram Rezaee and Andrew Horton, also juniors, will return as defensive backs. Adams and Horton also got valuable experience as receivers this fall.
“That’s a good foundation,” Wegher said of his returning lettermen.
Along with Poutier, the Chargers will lose seniors in linebackers Tristram Gillette and Chris Devries; wide receiver/defensive backs Shawn Kagan, Cody Banks, Jack Johnson and David Yim; linemen Caleb Maxey and Sean Pawlak, and Bryan Hochberg, a wide receiver/linebacker, who wasn’t able to return after breaking his ankle vs. Oak Park.
“(It was) just a really fun group to coach,” Wegher said of the 10 seniors. “Great kids and I’m going to miss them. They really worked hard to improve.
“They were 0-10 as sophomores, (but) they worked hard, hung together, put in great effort in the off-season, and were solid leaders and good citizens. And they’re going to go on to some really exciting things.”