Taft falls to Westlake in home opener

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The energy was electric in the home opener for the Taft Toreadors, who were playing their first game at home since 2021. Despite coming up on the short end of a 59-13 score, there was plenty for the Toreadors faithful to be excited about heading into Week one.

Taft Head Coach Fred Emerson’s offense looked great coming out of the gates. The Toreadors operated with pace and precision, forcing the Warriors into several false start penalties as they drove the ball down the field. When their first opportunity presented itself in the red zone, senior quarterback Devon Conroy found wide receiver Lior Lesham in the back of the endzone to open the scoring. “I’m so happy I got to be the one who scored the first touchdown in the new stadium,” said Lesham. “That’s so crazy.”

The celebratory mood would be short-lived as Westlake’s Alberto Ayon took the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, followed by an interception return touchdown to give the Warriors their first lead of the game. From there the game became an uphill struggle for the Toreadors, even though they hung tough against the speed and physicality of Westlake.

The biggest hurdle for the Toreadors was the inability to prevent the big play from Westlake. The Warriors didn’t sustain long, time-consuming drives. In the first half, Westlake struck fast, hitting big plays on offense to extend their lead. The Toreadors would respond with a Conroy touchdown scramble before the half to pull the score to 28-13, but that would be the last time the Toreadors found the endzone.

Despite the lopsided result, Taft had plenty of positives to pull from the game. Impact players such as Arian Maknouni had highlight hits on defense. Jacob Peery ran smooth routes and found himself open to be an outlet for Conroy all evening. Together Lesham and Peery combined for 16 catches and 192 yards between them. Micheal Mansaray had a tough night going up against Westlake's stout defensive front, but he still averaged 4.8 yards per attempt. “We did some things well, but we know there's a lot we can do to clean up and improve our execution heading into Week one,” said Emerson on his team's performance Friday night. “We will dive into the film and do the work to get ready for the next one.”

The Toreadors will look to get back to .500 when they take the field next Friday night against the Los Angeles Romans, a team that will be looking to bounce back from a 38-6 loss to Panorama in Week Zero.

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