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THOUSAND OAKS — The Thousand Oaks football team is in unfamiliar territory.
After Friday night’s 24-17 win over Moorpark, the Lancers are two games away from an undefeated regular season.
It was just three years ago the Lancers were coming off back-to-back winless campaigns.
“A lot of us have been here since our freshman year. We lost to Moorpark our freshmen year 60-0,” said senior wideout Will Halub. “A lot of us were here for the two 0-10 seasons. It changed from day one with coach [Evan] Yabu. He turned around that 0-10 mentality to that hopefully undefeated mentality.”
It’s not as if the Lancers haven’t faced adversity this year.
In the second league game of the season, Thousand Oaks was taken to the brink of defeat by Newbury Park in a double overtime contest that ended on a thrilling 5-yard touchdown run by Chase Martin to secure the victory.
Thousand Oaks has victories over Canyon League counterparts Oak Park and Camarillo, who are a combined 11-5 on the season.
The Musketeers, who came into Friday’s game with a 5-2 record, got out to a 10-point lead in the first half and were up 17-14 with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
But much like they’ve done all season, the Lancers used that adversity to fuel them.
“We are never down on each other. We always pick each other up,” Martin said. “Couple dropped balls at the end but we lifted them up.”
“Our team has so much heart. That’s the reason we won this game,” said Andrew Simon-Lacombe. “Counting on each other, staying cool-headed. That’s how we won.”
Down by three points with time running out, Thousand Oaks quarterback Travis Endicott threw a pass that was intercepted just outside of the end zone, but the Moorpark defender was tackled back into the end zone for a safety.
The magic was still alive for Thousand Oaks, which drove the ball down the field in an impressive two-minute drill that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Endicott to Simon-Lacombe.
“As soon as he called the play, I was ready for it,” Simon-Lacombe said.
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“We had a good matchup, I knew he was going to be in the right spot,” Endicott added. “I just wanted to throw a good catchable pass for him to make the play.”
Thousand Oaks has one more league game against Agoura next week, and according to Yabu, the team has already clinched the Canyon League title.
But that doesn’t mean they are going to be slowing down.
“We set our sights on the end prize at the beginning of the season,” Yabu said. “It sounds cliche but we’re really focused on how do we improve the things that keep games like this from being so close. Keep chomping away at the little details.”