Thousand Oaks High opens its football season tonight at 7:30 when the Lancers play host to San Marcos in a nonleague game.
Thousand Oaks had a 6-4-1 record last season, including a first-round loss to Buena in the Coastal Conference playoffs.
The Lancers, ranked No. 4 in the Times Valley poll, are bolstered by the return of eight starting defensive players. Senior free safety Steve Rudisill returns as the Marmonte League's defensive player of the year. Linebacker Lance Martin and linemen Chris Foster and Nick Ochoa were first-team all-league selections.
Offensively, Thousand Oaks is not as settled. Tailback Mike Lindsay rushed for 1,046 yards as a junior but is recovering from knee surgery and likely will miss the season's first five weeks. Rudisill, sophomore Cory Bowen and junior Greg Buchanan will pick up the slack.
Coach Bob Richards has yet to name a starting quarterback. The candidates are juniors Scott Peterson and David Watts.
San Marcos, which doesn't have a returning full-time starter, began last season 3-1 but finished 3-7, 1-6 in the Channel League. The Royals' only league victory was over Buena, which beat Thousand Oaks twice last year.
Coach Satini Puailoa will platoon at quarterback, starting senior Khoa Nguyen in the first quarter and junior Dave Lopez in the second. Juniors Mike Costelo, Manual Herrera and Shad Smith will rotate at running back.
The last time the teams met was the first round of the 1987 playoffs. Thousand Oaks won, 35-6, on its way to its first Coastal Conference championship.
In other nonleague openers tonight at 7:30, Hoover plays Burbank at Burroughs High, Harvard plays Blair at Pasadena City College and Alhambra plays Glendale at Glendale High.