Sharks victorious on Homecoming

Senior quarterback Victor Tyler releases a pass for the Sharks. Photo by Sam Rubinroit

The Malibu High School football team concluded its season with a shutout victory in its Homecoming game against the Villanova Wildcats, 14-0, on Nov. 13.

The first half passed without much fanfare as the two teams traded the ball back and forth, and at halftime the game remained scoreless. The turning point of the game came late in the third quarter when the Wildcats advanced the ball to the one-yard line, and, as Villanova continually pounded the ball up the middle, the Malibu defense refused to budge. On the fourth down, the Wildcats were forced to attempt a field goal, but they were unable to convert, putting the ball back in Malibu’s hands.

“That goal line stand was huge for us,” Malibu quarterback Victor Tyler said. The intensity picked up, and everyone got into it. That shifted the momentum, and we started to roll from there.”

In the final minutes of the third quarter, Malibu gained some momentum as Tyler connected with receivers Chris Konkol and Riley O’Neill on two receptions that put the Sharks within scoring range.

After Tyler converted on a fourth down run early in the final quarter, senior running back Jackson Wirht put the first points up on the board with a touchdown run, giving Malibu a 7-0 lead.

Following the touchdown, the Sharks were energized, forcing the Wildcats to punt after a quick series. The Malibu offense took over, and on the first play Tyler broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run. Leading 14-0, the Sharks could smell the victory and kept the Wildcats reeling, forcing two interceptions in the closing minutes, one by Wirht and the other by senior Justin Saul.

“It feels amazing,” Wirht said. “It’s good to go out on a high note. It’s been hard season, but we ended it with a win. All of the seniors realized that it was last time we were ever going to play, and we stepped it up a notch and brought the intensity.”

The victory improved Malibu’s record to 3-6, capping a tumultuous season that included a 41-16 loss to Fillmore and a 43-0 loss to Santa Paula.

“Not one of these guys quit,” Malibu head coach Ray Humphrey said. “They could have quit after the loss against Fillmore, or this loss or that loss, but these guys never quit.”

The victory over Villanova marked the final game Malibu’s 16 seniors would play for the Sharks, and following the game Humphrey addressed his seniors and congratulated them on their outstanding effort.

“Any time you lose a senior group, it’s tough,” Humphrey said. “You put in a lot of years with these guys, and they put in their time and effort. We didn’t just pick it up two weeks before the season. There’s a lot of time and emotion that goes into this, so it can be pretty tough losing your players.”

Nevertheless, Malibu is continuing to look toward the future. The Sharks return several notable underclassman and juniors, including sophomore linebacker Evan Anthony, junior running back Matthew Mason, and junior linebacker Laker Dohan. Humphrey is spending little time dwelling on his losses, preferring instead to look toward the future of the program.

“We have a very good JV team and some players that stepped up this year on varsity,” Humphrey said. “The younger guys have a lot of good experience, and we have more juniors than we did when they started as freshman. I see good things for us. We’re going to starting lifting [weights] in January, and just keep going.”