Malibu Football Seniors Take the Field One Last Time

Senior class (Top row, left to right): Mario Yocupicio, Nick Anthony, Cooper Barton, Bubba Kepper, Dylan Miller; (Bottom row) Kerns Churchill, Jane Sidley, Trevor Schwerdtmann.

It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. 

Two nights before its last home football game this season, the Malibu High football team went about its business as if they were playing for a league championship. Bodies were colliding, pads were crunching, and coaches were teaching and motivating. Senior night was 48 hours away against Fillmore.

A year ago, a league title was at stake versus the same school. A year later, the Sharks were in search of their first win. 

Despite the Sharks’ best efforts, a 0-8 record became 0-9 after Malibu lost 36-0 to Fillmore last Friday. 

On Friday night, the Sharks will close out their season against Grace Brethren at Moorpark College at 7:30 p.m.

For seniors Nick Anthony, Cooper Barton, Kerns Churchill, Bubba Kepper, Dylan Miller, Trevor Schwerdtmann, Jane Sidley and Mario Yocupicio, it will be their final game in a Sharks uniform with the “M” gleaming from their helmet. 

“It’s really been special,” Anthony said. “We have one of the closest groups of guys. You won’t find any other team like that. This team has heart that no other team really has.”

The 2013 season has been a struggle for the Sharks since they first learned that running back Matt Vincent would be out with a knee injury. The loss of Vincent devastated the Sharks’ offense and dented the team morale.

Add to the fact that only 17 players make up the roster and depth has been an issue since training camp.

“It’s always been about numbers and we don’t have a lot of them,” Barton said. “We just do our best with who we have. We give it 100 percent on every play no matter who is on the field or who is off the field.”

Malibu has overcome its adversity by staying focused on the task at hand and listening and believing in their coach, Ray Humphrey. The coach praised the attitude of his senior class. 

“With the season the way it’s going, they stepped up and kept it positive,” Humphrey said. “It’s not the type of season we wanted to have but they haven’t stopped. They have never given up. Their attitudes have been great. Sometimes it’s all you can ask for.”

Despite a tough final season, the senior players say their time on the gridiron has imparted lessons beyond the game. 

“Football has had a huge impact on me. It has really affected me a lot,” Yocupicio said. “Because without football, I don’t know where I would be right now. Football has taught me to fight for what I really want in life. I want to go for my goals and accomplish what I am striving for. I will never quit.”

Anthony, Barton and Yocupicio have been a part of the MHS football program for four years. It has left an indelible effect on their lives and playing the last game will surely bring out the emotions.

“I am going to be really happy. I don’t want to be sad on my last game,” Yocupicio said. “I want to enjoy it as much as I can. But after the game I’m going to be pretty sad knowing that it’s the last game I’m ever going to play.”

Miller, a three-year starter, has come to grips that this ends a major chapter in his life.

“It’s definitely sad,” he said. “I have played for 11 years now and this is my last year so it’s an era in my life coming to an end. High school football has been such a big part of my high school experience.”

As the season comes to an end, so does another year of coaching for Humphrey. It doesn’t get any easier to say goodbye to the senior class.

“They mean a lot and they gave me a lot,” Humphrey said. “You always hate to see good kids go and no matter how the season is going you always have a bond with guys that you have been coaching for a long time. It’s tough to lose them because there are some great guys and a young lady out there.”

Win or lose, these Sharks have learned about commitment, sacrifice and togetherness.

“I’m just hoping to leave it all out on the field,” Anthony said. “When I walk off that field I want to say that I did my best because anything less is not as good.”