Tarek’s Takes: Calabasas football shows its more capable than ‘last place’ league finish

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Tarek’s Takes is a weekly review of my high school football predictions from the week before. Where I was right and where I was wrong, and why.

I predicted the outcome of seven Week 7 games and went 6-1, including the right pick in the Game of the Week between Granada Hills and Birmingham, which was decided by just one point. I also picked Calabasas to shock Simi Valley on the road, and the Coyotes made me look good …

Right picks: Birmingham over Granada Hills (29-28); Calabasas over Simi Valley (39-32); West Ranch over Valencia (23-16); Thousand Oaks over Camarillo (35-28); Sierra canyon over Alemany (42-0); Chaminade over Notre Dame (65-34)

Wrong picks: St. Francis over Cathedral (48-39)

2022 pick record: 34-13 | Game of the Week: 4-3

Tarek’s Takes

CALABASAS WON’T FINISH LAST

The Marmonte League had a football media day in Simi Valley on August 9. The coaches agreed the league represented the best high school football teams in Ventura County – St. Bonaventure, Oaks Christian, Calabasas and Westlake, with new additions Simi Valley and Santa Barbara Bishop Diego.

The day also included a media guide with a breakdown of each team’s information, including top players, schedule, last year’s record, and a league placement prediction.

Calabasas was predicted to finish sixth. That’s last place.

“It’s hard not to take that personal,” Calabasas lineman Ryan Lucero said that day. “It’s our job to prove them wrong.”

King Miller of Calabasas High School looks on during the Marmonte League football media day August 9, 2022.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The Coyotes played Oaks Christian – the league’s top team – tough two weeks ago, but eventually lost 29-16. But this past week, Calabasas went on the road to Simi Valley and shocked the Pioneers 39-32 in what Harris called a confidence booster.

“Oh, trust me. We use it to our advantage. That’s been motivating us,” Calabasas coach Cary Harris said of the team being picked to finish last in the league. “The win at Simi Valley definitely has the guys more confident and excited in practice this week.”

Calabasas’ offense has gotten a major lift since transfer quarterback Alonzo Contreras arrived. He’s thrown for 1,518 yards and 18 touchdowns with just three interceptions this season. His top three targets are USC-commit Aaron Butler, sophomore Arion Lang, and senior Jerry McGee, a standout transfer from Reseda High.

“Alonzo allows us to be more versatile,” Harris said. “It keeps defenses on edge.”

Calabasas can run the ball, too. Running back King Miller has 863 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. The offense is hard to stop, which is likely to be the reason the Coyotes don’t finish last in the Marmonte League, but possible even achieve an automatic playoff berth with a third-place finish.

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The Coyotes host Bishop Diego this Friday and St. Bonaventure next Friday before its season-finale at Westlake on October 28. If Calabasas can win two of those three games, it’s likely to slot them in the third-place spot.

Harris was singing the praises of his linebacking core, which has anchored the defense this year. Senior Kaylon Miller, sophomore Sam Kijner and junior Robert Paladines.

Calabasas is currently ranked No. 10 in the latest Daily News top 15 high school football rankings after taking down previously-ranked No. 8 Simi Valley.