The tight spiral seemed to hang in the air for an eternity.
Keithan Allen, a Calabasas High cornerback, wasn’t going to let this pass reach its destination.
The junior plucked the ball out of the air in front of the Coyote sideline for his second interception in the opening game of the inaugural Lancer Air Assault tournament last weekend at Thousand Oaks High.
Fellow Coyotes mobbed their teammate and went wild in celebration.
These passing tournaments are just an appetizer before the high-intensity Friday night showdowns. The competitive juices start flowing during these sizzling summer showcases.
“I think that’s why we all do it,” said Mike Leibin, Thousand Oaks’ head coach. “There are certain elements of 7-on-7 that are so fake and so unrealistic, but your opportunity to line up and compete against somebody else, there’s really no substitute for it.”
Sixteen teams, including Acorn locals Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Newbury Park, Westlake, St. Bonaventure, Grace Brethren, Camarillo and Rio Mesa, went to battle.
Here are a few highlights from the action-packed weekend:
THOUSAND OAKS – LANCERS
The Lancer defense needed a big play while Palmdale tried to run out the clock.
Troy Helo, an incoming senior cornerback for Thousand Oaks, did his best superhero impression, coming up with an end zone interception.
Head coach Mike Leibin leaped with joy, fired up and already in midseason form.
The Lancers quickly rattled off offensive plays with incoming senior quarterback Freddie Ricketts, a returning starter. Ricketts, who also plays basketball, found incoming senior receiver Eric Gramer, a mini Thor with lush blond hair, for the game-winning score.
Leibin spoke highly of Helo during the tournament.
“He’s been one of those guys that has to have big performances for us to be successful,” the coach said of Helo. “Him being consistent and being a playmaker is what we need to have success.”
Helo, who also plays receiver, said the intensity of the meaningless game was a taste of what’s to come in the fall.
“We’re just getting ready for games,” Helo said. “This is what the game experience is going to be like out here. We’re going out there and working hard.”
Jake Sebek, an incoming senior running back who was in street clothes, cheered his teammates from the sideline. Sebek wants to have an impact at running back this fall.
Leibin said he was satisfied with the school’s inaugural event.
“It’s a really good field of 16 teams,” he said. “Overall, I’m really happy.”