Stage Has Been Set for Oxnard Revival

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All eyes appear to be on the Oxnard High football team, and for the first time in a decade the Yellowjackets might be worth a second look.

A new on-campus stadium will set the stage for what a consensus of league coaches is calling potentially the best Oxnard team since the 1986 squad that was 10-0, the last to win a league title and last to reach the playoffs.

“They’ve got talent,” Ventura Coach Phil McCune said. “You’ve got to pick them.”

Most league coaches pick Oxnard--2-8 last season--to finish second behind Dos Pueblos. Oxnard Coach Wesley Morimune is comfortable with being a front-runner.


“Barring anything unforeseeable, we’ll have a really good year,” Morimune said. “Right now, we’re getting some team continuity, some team unity.”

Twenty-five players return, many in key positions and several who played on an unbeaten youth football team in 1992.

Among them are defensive backs Courtney Palmore and Mark Valdivia, and linebacker Donald Arguelles. The trio caused commotion by transferring from Rio Mesa as sophomores, only to be denied eligibility last season by the Southern Section until all but three games remained.

“We went through hell week and everything, and then we couldn’t play,” said Arguelles, who is expected to start at middle linebacker. “It was frustrating. This year will be different.”

Oxnard’s optimism was tempered when the Southern Section docked the Yellowjackets two days of practice for conducting workouts while wearing helmets. Oxnard successfully petitioned to begin summer practice a week early, but the team donned headgear before rules allow.

Morimune, who said the violation was a misunderstanding, claims section officials were informed by representatives of area opponents who observed Oxnard practices from a distance.


“We had people spying on us,” Morimune said. “One guy almost had to be physically removed.”

Morimune declined to provide names of alleged observers but said he is considering lodging a protest with the Southern Section. Right now, there are more important things to be concerned with. Like winning.

“This year should be very, very exciting,” said Palmore, who also is expected to play tailback. “I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully, we’ll give Oxnard a better reputation. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but we can do it.”

Optimism abounds throughout the league. Buena Coach Rick Scott, whose team has 17 returning players after finishing tied for third with Ventura, said competition will be the toughest in his eight years at the school.

“Everybody except Hueneme and Santa Barbara have really improved themselves,” Scott said.

Aside from Oxnard, Rio Mesa appears to have made the greatest strides.

The Spartans have 16 players returning from a team that was 2-8 last season and had only two seniors. Quarterback Farhaad Azimi enters his third season as a starter and is among the league’s best. Azimi will work with a talented group of receivers and behind an offensive line that includes three returning starters.

“We’re going to build our offense around him,” Coach George Contreras said.

At Hueneme, things just won’t be the same without running back Ronney Jenkins, who rushed for 2,152 yards, including a national-record 619 against Rio Mesa.


Jenkins now plays for Brigham Young and Coach Larry Miller is sifting through a pool of four possible replacements.

“You don’t replace a guy like Ronney,” Miller said. “You just move on.”



* THE PROVEN: Senior wide receiver T.J. Stafford (6 feet, 175 pounds) of Buena tied a school record with 56 receptions last season. Quarterback Anthony Ramos (6-1, 185) of Dos Pueblos, an all-league selection as a junior, might be the league’s best player. Senior quarterback Bryan Spencer (6-1, 165) of Oxnard returns as a starter after passing for 819 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior tailback Jeramie Jackson (5-11, 175) of Ventura rushed for 316 yards and two touchdowns as a reserve.

* THE PROMISING: Courtney Palmore of Oxnard (6-1, 180), a free safety and tailback, has impressed college scouts with his speed. Middle linebacker Donald Arguelles (6-1, 230) will spearhead an Oxnard defense that should be improved. Senior tailback Johnny Gatlin (5-8, 160) of Hueneme is the likely successor to Ronney Jenkins, who rushed for 2,152 yards last season before moving on to Brigham Young.

* FAST FACT: No team has repeated as outright league champion since Santa Barbara in 1989. Ventura tied for the league title with Buena in 1991 after winning the title outright in 1990.


Channel League Schedules Buena

Sept. 12--Westlake

Sept. 20--at Agoura

Sept. 27--Newbury Park

Oct. 4--*at Oxnard

Oct. 11--*at San Marcos

Oct. 18--*Ventura

Oct. 25--*at Rio Mesa

Nov. 1--*Dos Pueblos

Nov. 8--*at Santa Barbara

Nov. 15--*Hueneme

Home Site

Ventura High


Sept. 12--Agoura

Sept. 20--at Channel Islands

Sept. 27--at Camarillo

Oct. 4--*Rio Mesa

Oct. 11--*Dos Pueblos

Oct. 18--*Oxnard

Oct. 25--*at Ventura

Nov. 1--*Santa Barbara

Nov. 8--*at San Marcos

Nov. 15--*at Buena

Home Site

Hueneme High


Sept. 13--at Camarillo

Sept. 20--at Serra

Sept. 27--Channel Islands

Oct. 4--*Buena

Oct. 11--at Ventura

Oct. 18--*at Hueneme

Oct. 25--*San Marcos

Nov. 1--*Rio Mesa

Nov. 8--*Dos Pueblos

Nov. 15--*at Santa Barbara

Home Site

Oxnard High

Rio Mesa

Sept. 13--at Channel Islands

Sept. 20--Camarillo

Sept. 27--Santa Clara

Oct. 4--*at Hueneme

Oct. 11--Santa Barbara

Oct. 18--*Dos Pueblos at San Marcos High

Oct. 25--*Buena

Nov. 1--*at Oxnard

Nov. 7--*at Ventura

Nov. 15--*San Marcos

Home Site

Rio Mesa High


Sept. 13--at Simi Valley

Sept. 20--Westlake

Sept. 27--at Royal

Oct. 4--*Santa Barbara

Oct. 11--*Oxnard

Oct. 18--*at Buena

Oct. 25--*Hueneme

Nov. 1--*at San Marcos

Nov. 8--*Rio Mesa

Nov. 15--*at Dos Pueblos

Home Site

Ventura High

*League games