If you have not heard of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian School already, get used to the name. The Lions are a new school, opening their doors for the first time in 2000, but have quickly become a powerhouse in Ventura County. The Lions have won 31 straight games and three straight CIF section championships. Undefeated in both 2004 and 2005, Oaks Christian has taken Southern California by storm with a stable of young talent. They won their four playoff games this most recent postseason by a combined score of 217-14.
"A lot of high schools are lucky if they have one Division I caliber kid on their team. That's considered pretty good. We have at least nine here," says Lions' head coach Bill Redell.
The lion's share of the headlines at Oak Christian go to their junior class, where at least seven Division I prospects are found. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is thought by some to be the best prospect at his position in the country, regardless of class, and he is expected to play for USC or Notre Dame in two years. Running back Marc Tyler will also be a consensus Top 100 player and was recently named the Junior Player of the Year in California. Those two are just the tip of the iceberg.
But a quiet cornerstone in the graduating senior class is offensive tackle Joe Dembesky, who anchored the left side of the Lions' offensive line this year and enabled an offense that scored better than 53 points per game this year.
"He goes 6-5 and 275 pounds, but he's got a frame where he could be 305," Redell describes. "He's a skinny 275 pounds, if you can imagine that."
"His great strength is his speed. He runs a legit 4.9 40. And I know that a lot of 40 times are inflated, but that is legit. Joe can run," the coach continues. "He's a great athlete who plays baseball pretty well. He plays first base and was at a Kansas City Royals camp. He has great intelligence and is very coachable."
"Joe played left tackle for us and was great in pass pro' and a good run blocker," Redell praises. "But what sets him apart is his speed. There are other guys out there at 275 pounds, but not a lot of those guys can run."
Dembesky camped at Stanford this past summer and was one of the rare linemen to impress the Cardinal coaches enough to move up their recruiting board. The tackle prospect has been overshadowed by the obscene underclass at his school, but his Division I recruitment has moved ahead quietly.
"Joe was offered by UNLV, Wyoming and Cal-Davis," Redell reports. "At this stage, I think he's going to Harvard instead of those schools, though. He's been accepted. What we're waiting to hear is if Stanford offers. If they don't, then he's headed to Harvard."
In addition to All-County honors and Second Team All-State (Small Schools) for football, Dembesky earned All-County Academic honors with a reported 3.63 GPA.
Redell at the end of last week was expecting news from The Farm any day on what Stanford was going to do. The Bootleg has not been able to reach Dembesky for more on this story, but we will update you as soon as we hear. The Cardinal coaches have been making visits to Oaks Christian the last few months to firm up their evaluation, and given Dembesky's athleticism, it would not surprise us at all to see Stanford jump in.
Stanford currently has three commitments on the offensive line, including two on the interior and one tackle. The Cardinal corralled one offensive lineman in last year's signing class. If Dembesky projects as a player who can help, Stanford certainly has the need at his position. Stay tuned.
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