Brady Smigiel shows off his ‘Chosen One’ skills in dominant Newbury Park win

Newbury Park quarterback Brady Smigiel passes against Royal in the Panthers' 55-0 win Friday night.
Newbury Park quarterback Brady Smigiel passes against Royal in the Panthers’ 55-0 win Friday night. Smigiel passed for 245 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

When you exit the 101 Freeway at Wendy Drive, you know you’re entering Panthers territory, home of Newbury Park High. It was homecoming on Friday night. The alumni are used to watching top quarterbacks, from Wayne Cook to Keith Smith to Cameron Rising.

So imagine the anticipation and excitement to finally get a glimpse at the Chosen One, 6-foot-5 freshman quarterback Brady Smigiel, playing in a Canyon League opener against Simi Valley Royal.

The bleachers were packed. There was tri-tip from Cronies Sports Grill smoked to perfection. There were fireworks for the first time since 2019 exploding in the sky during halftime. The student section was filled with students wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts.

The young quarterback didn’t disappoint. On his first pass of the game in shotgun formation, Smigiel took the snap and fired a deep spiral to Shane Rosenthal in full stride, resulting in a 73-yard touchdown. The Panthers (5-0) came away with 55-0 victory. It was a running clock through the second half.


Smigiel, playing only in the first half, completed 15 of 21 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. Rosenthal caught seven passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

These are Conejo Valley neighborhood kids competing against other neighborhood kids. The Newbury Park roster numbers fewer than 40. There’s several multisport athletes and most important, best friends playing together and enjoying the high school experience.

“This is exactly the high school experience in front of the community winning games,” said Rosenthal, a sophomore who has been playing with Smigiel since they were 7.

The presence of Smigiel and a group of sure-handed receivers is certainly creating excitement and something to build around.

Newbury Park’s first-year head coach, Joe Smigiel, is Brady’s dad. He graduated from Newbury Park in 1990, earned a football scholarship to Arizona and is back enjoying the neighborhood feel that comes from coaching kids from the community.

“Oh my gosh,” he said. “How can you ask for anything more? We don’t have any transfers. Our kids are Newbury Park kids. And that’s for a lot for schools in our area. It’s a fun league. All the coaches are cool.”

Six of the seven schools in the Canyon League — Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Agoura, Moorpark, Camarillo and Newbury Park — have alumni as their head coaches. Only Royal coach Mike Puopolo stands apart. He went to Oak Park.

“It’s super cool,” Oak Park coach Casey Webb said earlier this week. “They bring a long passion representing their schools. I’ve known a lot of these kids since second grade when I taught them in elementary school.


“It’s what high school football should be about and was about back in the day. There’s nothing better than lacing up next to someone you’ve known since kindergarten.”

In 1989, when Joe Smigiel was blocking for Newbury Park, the star linebacker at Thousand Oaks was Lance Martin. This season, the star linebacker for the Lancers is Chase Martin, Lance’s son. Next week, when 4-0 Thousand Oaks plays 5-0 Newbury Park, it will be Smigiel vs. Martin for the first time in 33 years.

“He needs to stay away from my son,” Smigiel said chuckling.

The elder Smigiel hardly talks to his son during games.

“He likes to stay away during the game,” Joe said.

Brady’s twin brother, Beau, is a receiver out for the season after ACL surgery, but he was swinging around his crutches to halftime music.

“One of the fun things with this situation I’m a dad and coach, but I’m not a coach to my kids at home,” Joe said.

“My kids’ friends are always at the house. I’m a tough guy on the field, then they come to my house I’m feeding them grilled cheese.”