May 24, 2024

Sophomore quarterback Brady Smigiel is the son of Newbury Park coach Joe Smigiel, and the 16-year-old was doing a good job making his father age before everyone’s eyes Friday night in front of a sold-out home crowd during a rivalry game against Thousand Oaks.

There were three first-half interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, so dad’s gray hairs were multiplying. He probably made a mental note to make sure Brady takes out the trash and mows the lawn next week. Then again, Brady also passed for six touchdowns, proving he has the short-term memory to move forward after mistakes.

“I’m doing all the chores this week,” Brady said.

More important, the Smigiels got to celebrate a victory. Brady completed 25 of 45 passes for 435 yards and the six scores, including four to Landon Bell, during a 54-42 Canyon League victory, the Panthers’ first win over Thousand Oaks since 2019.

There’s something about playing Thousand Oaks that must cause Smigiel to try a little too hard, because sometimes he releases passes that have no business being thrown. Last season the Lancers intercepted three of his passes in the first quarter and four overall in Newbury Park’s overtime loss.

“I was going back to my immature self, trying to be Superman,” he said.

Like last year, Smigiel regrouped after Scott Mahannah and Dean Harrington returned interceptions for touchdowns. They were bad decisions made while facing constant pressure from defensive end Blake Lauritzen.

Smigiel responded by connecting with Bell, a transfer from Las Vegas who’s committed to Arizona, on seven catches for 182 yards. Shane Rosenthal had eight catches for 152 yards and one touchdown and made an interception on defense. His twin brother, Beau, also caught a touchdown pass.

“We got our payback,” Beau said.

The Panthers (4-1, 2-0) are getting help next week on defense when transfer students TJ Ford and Blake Bryce become eligible. They play defensive tackle and defensive end.

First-year Thousand Oaks coach Ben McEnroe, a former Cal Lutheran coach, likes what he sees from the 6-foot-5 Smigiel.

“He’s as good a high school quarterback as I’ve ever had to prepare for,” McEnroe said. “At this age, he’s a Power-Five guy. He’s interesting. There’s things you want certain types of quarterbacks for different systems. He’s a big-body guy who can do anything from air raid to pro-style offense.”

Smigiel didn’t let the mistakes bother him. He passed for 301 yards in the first half and teamed with Bell on touchdown passes of 22 and 55 yards for a 26-14 halftime lead. In the second half, Thousand Oaks fought back behind running back Brolin Hannah, who ran for three touchdowns.

Afterward, Joe Smigiel helped lead Newbury Park students charging onto the field to celebrate victory in a much-beloved rivalry game. He had grown tired of living with last season’s loss.

“It was 365 days of listening to them,” he said.

Unbeaten Mater Dei (5-0) struggled on offense but still came away with a 20-7 victory over Baltimore St. Frances in a game played at Johns Hopkins University.

Linebacker Nasir Wyatt and defensive back Chuck McDonald contributed touchdowns on defense. Quarterback Elijah Brown scored the only touchdown for the offense in the final seconds. The Monarchs return home to begin Trinity League play next week against Servite.

In another road trip, City Section power Birmingham traveled to Cibolo, Texas, and was beaten by Steele 49-7.


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