Malibu High Sharks football player Dane Kapler looked like he was riding around the gridiron atop two miniature sports cars the morning of Aug. 11.
The running back, with dark red Adidas cleats on his feet, juked around and zoomed by defenders again and again during Malibu’s home scrimmage against the Cerritos High Dons.
Kapler, a junior, motored over 30 yards past Cerritos defensive players for an early touchdown in the meeting and plowed through a few more for a second score a few plays later.
Kapler said instincts take over when he is dashing with the pigskin past or through opposing players.
“I try to run around as much as I can, but if I’m in a pickle, I’m just going to run straight over somebody,” he said. “I’ve been playing tackle football since fourth grade, so at some point it just became second nature.”
Malibu head coach Terry Shorten said Kapler played outstandingly.
“He has been working hard to be in this position, to be that guy,” Shorten said. “I’m really excited to see him run this year. He has worked since he was a freshman to be a go-to guy.”
The Sharks scored five touchdowns against the Dons in the scrimmage. Both teams used the matchup as tune-up for the start of football season. Malibu plays at Mark Keppel on Friday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 p.m. The Sharks defeated the Aztecs, 48-0, in last season’s opening game.
Malibu’s contest against Cerritos began with its field goal unit running a few plays against the Dons defense and continued with both squads’ offensive and defensive units facing off, 10 plays at a time.
Coaches from the schools were sprinkled at various spots on the field throughout the scrimmage. They reminded the athletes not to hit the centers—the lineman who snapped the football to the quarterbacks—and the quarterbacks, easily identifiable due to bright orange sheets covering the tops of their helmets.
Malibu’s coaches also shouted things like “Good hustle,” “Get right d-line,” “Watch the ball,” and “Watch the draw” during the event, attended by fans from both schools.
Malibu’s defense held Cerritos’ offense in check most of the scrimmage.
Shorten gave his squad a “B” grade for their performance. He said Malibu put forth good effort, and he was glad the Sharks scored multiple times.
Kapler said the team did well.
“We made a few little mistakes, but nothing we can’t fix before the season starts,” he said.
Barnes said the touchdowns solidified that the Sharks are all on the same page.
“We are ready for the season,” he said. “Today was a good glimpse of what is to come.”
Shorten said the scrimmage was a test to see if Malibu’s players could play on both offense and defense. The roster is composed of only 25 participants, so a lot of the Sharks will be members of the offensive and defensive lineups all season.
“We went 40 plays on both sides of the ball because we really wanted to understand how that looked,” Shorten said. “That is still not game scenario—in a game, we will average a few more plays—but we just wanted to give our players a chance to see what that looked like. We are low on numbers and not able to sub like we have in the past, so they will be on the field a lot.”
The Sharks finished 2017’s season with a 6-4 record.
Malibu’s second match of the season is a home contest against Viewpoint on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. The group’s third game of the season is at Beverly Hills on Aug. 31. Malibu beat the Normans, 19-14, last September.
Shorten said he wants his team to solidify its identity the first three games of the season, all nonconference matchups, before competition begins in the Citrus Coast League.
“It’s important for us to understand what we can do on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We are working on a new identity in a way—take what is given to us. If the defense is packing the box to stop the run, then we are going to throw. If they are looking to spread us out, then we are going to run.”
The Sharks’ first league game is a home contest against Hueneme on Sept. 14. Other teams Malibu will vie against for the league crown include Santa Clara, Carpinteria, Santa Paula, Nordoff and Fillmore.
Kapler said Malibu needs to maintain a high physical fitness level to have an exception season.
“We are low on numbers, but high on talent,” he said. “If we can stay in shape and keep the ball moving, we will have success.”