Brady Smigiel shows off his skills in dominant Newbury Park win

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

So imagine the anticipation and excitement of finally getting a glimpse of the chosen one, 6-foot-5 quarterback Brady Smigiel, who plays Simi Valley Royal in a Canyon League opener.

The stands were full. There was Cronies Sports Grill Tri-Tip smoked to perfection. At half-time, fireworks exploded in the sky for the first time since 2019. The student section was full of students wearing brightly colored 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 at Shane Rosenthal at a full stride, resulting in a 73-yard touchdown. The Panthers (5-0) won 55-0. It was a running clock through the second half.

Smigiel, who only played 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 who compete against other neighborhood kids. Newbury Park’s roster has fewer than 40. There are several multi-athletes and mostly best friends who play together and enjoy the high school experience.

“This is exactly the high school experience before the community winning games,” said Rosenthal, a sophomore who has played with Smigiel since he was seven.

The presence of Smigiel and a group of sure recipients certainly creates excitement and something to build on.

Newbury Park first-year head coach Joe Smigiel is Brady’s father. He graduated from Newbury Park in 1990, received an Arizona football scholarship and is enjoying again the sense of neighborhood that comes from coaching children in the community.

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

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

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

“That’s what high school football was supposed to be about and that’s what it was about back then. There’s nothing quite like lacing up next to someone you’ve known since kindergarten.”

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

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

The older Smigiel hardly speaks to his son during the games.

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

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

“One of the funny things about this situation is that I’m a father and I’m a coach, but I’m not a coach for my kids at home,” Joe said.

“My children’s friends are always at home. I’m a tough guy in the field, then they come to my house and I feed them grilled cheese.” Brady Smigiel shows off his skills in dominant Newbury Park win

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