Malik Henry isn't your typical underclassman. He certainly wasn't on Thursday night. More often than not, the junior quarterback from Westlake Village Westlake played with the poise of a veteran against Santa Ana Mater Dei. No easy task given the high-profile opponent.
Despite the efforts of the 6-foot-2, 174-pounder, and the fact he set up a game-winning field-goal attempt for Kevin Robledo, the underdog Warriors came up short in a 28-27 nonleague loss to the visitors. Still, Henry has nothing to be ashamed of after his effort.
Trailing 28-17 with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter, the Warriors (3-2 overall) rallied. Then, with three seconds left, a 33-yard attempt by Robledo was somehow tipped at the line of scrimmage. The kick missed the mark as time expired against the Monarchs (5-0).
In most cases, with Robledo seemingly in control of his team's destiny, Westlake ends up with a win. The senior, after all, is one of the nation's best and his selection to the Army All-American Bowl this last week is further proof of that. It wasn't meant to be this time, however.
Henry put Westlake in position to win with an 82-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Cuccia with 6:28 left in the fourth quarter. His subsequent two-point running conversion cut the deficit to 28-25. A safety on a bad snap out of the end zone on a Mater Dei punt closed the gap to a single point.
In need of a good start against a traditionally tough team, Henry thew a one-yard touchdown pass to Theo Howard in the first quarter. The Warriors led 17-6 at halftime, in fact. Henry did a good job spreading the ball around throughout the game and finished with 212 yards through the air.
There are no moral victories in a game like this. Still, positives can be taken away from the outcome by Westlake, which was taking on one of the Southland's traditional powerhouse programs. Bottom line: Westlake should take consolation in the fact it has an emerging young leader under center.