Raiders’ football looks to kickoff season strong against district rival


Moorpark Running Back Donovan Davis attempts to avoid defenders during a scrimmage game against his fellow teammates on May 19, 2021, at Moorpark College. Many players are new to the Raiders and will be playing their first game on Saturday, Sept. 4. Photo credit: Ryan Bough & Rachel Franklin

By Ryan Bough

Moorpark Raiders’ football is back and it is ready for the 2021 season after over a year without football at Griffin Stadium.

The Raiders are planning to return with their first competition being a home game against Ventura College on Sept. 4. The two schools have been rivals from the start due to them being sister schools in the Ventura County Community College District. This sibling rivalry game has been given a special title and even has its own trophy for the winner, The Citrus Cup.

The Ventura College Pirates have taken the Citrus Cup consecutively for the last 13 years. Moorpark Head Coach Mike Stuart seemed optimistic for the 2021 season as he said the Raiders are moving to a new conference, the American Pacific Conference.

“The competition, in my opinion, is not as high as in the past which might be good for us right now just because we are such a young team.” explained Stuart. “So my expectations now in this new league is to go on and win the league. I have no question in my mind that we can’t do that.”

In the American Pacific Conference, the Raiders will be playing schools such as Santa Barbara City, LA Pierce, LA Valley, and Santa Monica.

The Raiders roster this semester is filled with lots of newcomers to the team. Out of 97 players, only 11 are sophomores. Some returners to the Raiders team include; Cashton Hafferty, Andrew Roland, Trae Johnson and Kenneth Stewart.

Roland spoke about the differences he saw between this new team and the one pre-pandemic.

“I feel like our team energy this year is a lot better than it was a year and a half ago,” expressed Roland. “This group here, you know, dealing with the whole pre-COVID stuff, you know, [has] been a lot more unified.”

In the last season before the pandemic, the Raiders finished 1-9, only beating Glendale College.

The Raiders have a new face to impress this semester – new Athletic Director Matt Crater, who spoke about how he’s looking forward to seeing the Raiders in action.

“I’m looking forward to seeing football,” said Crater. “It’s been almost 20 months since we played a game. What I’m looking forward to most is just seeing, you know, Ventura County, and the community come together around this game.”

Kickoff of the Citrus Cup begins at 7 p.m. Recently-enacted protocols ask spectators to scan a visitor QR code and complete a short COVID-19 questionnaire before entering the stadium. According to the Moorpark College athletics website, masks are not required but are highly encouraged while outdoors.