Two years ago, the Channel Islands High football opened 5-0 before suffering through a winless Pacific View League campaign.
This fall, behind the play of quarterback Steven Gutierrez, running back Richard Gray and tight end Jeremiah Valoaga, the Raiders have started 4-1.
Tonight's visit to traditional PVL power Camarillo, the Ventura County Star's Domino's Game of the Week, may show how much the program has progressed in head coach Gary Porter's three-year tenure.
"We've had this start before," said Channel Islands third-year coach Gary Porter. "We haven't competed in our own league.
Gutierrez has completed 57 of 100 passes for 747 yards and six touchdowns.
"He's shown a lot of poise," said Porter. "He runs the offense well. The team rallies around him."
Gray leads Ventura County with 750 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
"He runs hard," said Porter. "We lead with a fullback and try to get him in favorable situations."
Those situations have become more frequent now that the Raiders have solved some holes in the offensive line. Guard Luis Ramirez and tackle Alejandro Magana return to form the left side, but junior center Javier Vasquez has performed well as a junior and guard Vince Cerrano has made the transition from the defensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Channel Islands has been boosted by the limited return of middle linebacker Richard Palmer, who suffered a broken leg in August.
"He'll get some spot play," said Porter.
The Raiders haven't played the Scorpions within a one-score game since a 30-24 loss in 2004.
But Channel Islands certainly has Camarillo coach Dennis Riedmiller's attention this year.
"They're a very good football team," said Riedmiller. "They have very good skill position athletes. They get after it. They're aggressive. That's a big difference. This is a team that can definitely beat us."
Channel Islands have dropped the past six meetings with Camarillo by an average margin of 46-8.
"This isn't going to be a 56-0 game," said Riedmiller. "These guys are going to come out here to beat you. Right now, we're all 0-0 and this is a game for a championship. That's how we're looking at it.