Onside kick sparks Calabasas football past Simi Valley

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SIMI VALLEY — Trailing by two scores at halftime, the Calabasas football team looked to its kicker to change its fortunes in what turned out to be a 39-32 Marmonte League victory over host Simi Valley on Friday night.

Kicker Sean Stepenosky creased a perfect onside kick attempt 10 yards down the middle of the field.

“We wanted to take the right chance at the right moment,” Calabasas coach Cary Harris said. “We knew that we were already down a score, so we were just trying to get some momentum for the second half.”

Stepenosky, a senior, was the first person to the ball, recovering his own kick at midfield.

“That was actually the plan,” Harris said. “That’s the plan for him. He’s one of our leading tacklers on special teams and one of our captains. It was really good for him to have that moment.”

After surrendering the recovered kick, Simi Valley nearly avoided any damage from it. The Pioneers (4-3 overall, 1-1 Marmonte) forced a fourth down, only to see a conversion followed immediately by a King Miller 35-yard touchdown run.

“We had them kind of stopped and they picked up a first down and then went down and scored,” Simi Valley coach Jim Benkert said. “They kind of just unleashed their athletes on us.”

Miller did the most damage for Calabasas (3-3, 1-1), running for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

Simi Valley forced a turnover and scored just over three minutes into the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Steele Pizzella plunged in for one of his two rushing scores. He also threw a pair of touchdown passes (covering 21 and 68 yards) to senior Caleb Alvary.

Calabasas got a pair of second-half touchdowns from Aaron Butler – one on a run shortly after he dropped a would-be touchdown catch and the other when he scooped up a fumble near midfield and returned it the distance to help secure the victory.

“Aaron Butler has been a starter on varsity for three years. He dropped a pass in the end zone,” Harris said. “Then the next play he goes in and scores a touchdown for us, then picks up a fumble and goes 60 yards. It’s good to let that play go and just lead the team.”

Calabasas quarterback Alonzo Contreras added a 48-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jerry McGee.

Kicker Diego Caal made a pair of field goals for Simi Valley.

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