Schedule strength is on high for many teams


Our local sports teams all seem to be going through the toughest parts of their schedules right now.

Take the San Marcos football team, for instance.

The Royals (1-3) lost 28-0 to undefeated Oxnard on Friday and will travel to play 3-1 Arroyo Grande this week. After that, juggernaut St. Bonaventure pays a visit to Valley Stadium. Two weeks ago, the Royals fell to a Hueneme squad that’s currently 4-1… That’s a 4-week span of playing opponents that are a combined 15-3.

“We know we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said coach Jeff Hesselmeyer at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon.

Hesselmeyer was accompanied at Harry’s by senior leaders Ivan Perez and Jake Buchanan, and while he’d certainly love to see fans make it up to his team’s game against the Eagles on Friday, he also encouraged attendance at Dos Pueblos’ home game against Rio Mesa.

DP’s home field will officially be dedicated in the name of the late Scott O’Leary — a former mentor of Hesselmeyer’s who is one of the most legendary coaches in the history of the local sports community.


DOS PUEBLOS: Jeff Uyesaka’s Chargers might have thought that Friday’s game at Righetti wasn’t as tough a spot on the schedule as initially thought. After all, the Chargers took a 17-14 lead into halftime.

Then the second half happened.

Righetti, which Uyesaka said out-weighed the Chargers by 40-50 pounds at every position in the trenches, stymied DP down the stretch and ended up winning 42-17.

“I think we were just shaking a beehive,” said Uyesaka of the first half.

The coach introduced senior lineman Ty Smith as well as do-it-all senior Cory Micheel, who plays both ways and also handles the kicking duties. Uyesaka ended by saying that he would not be coaching if not for having played for and worked with O’Leary.

SBCC: John Uribe broke numerous passing records in his career at Santa Barbara High, but Saturday was the first time he put up jaw-dropping statistics at the college level. The freshman signal-caller was 23-for-28 with 261 yards and two touchdowns as the Vaqueros improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the American Pacific Conference with a 28-3 win at L.A. Southwest.

Coach Craig Moropoulos said that Uribe’s performance had a lot to do with a great turnaround performance by the SBCC offensive line. He brought a key member of the line — 6-4, 277-pound freshman Chris Anderson — along with Uribe to the luncheon.

SANTA BARBARA HIGH: The Dons are still looking for their first win after the offense struggled in a 21-6 loss at San Luis Obispo on Friday.

“We played good football, and we’re getting better and better every week,” said coach Jaime Melgoza, who brought along a couple of gentlemen by the name of “Perez” with him.

Mark “Buster” Perez is a linebacker as well as a fullback, and he scored the only Santa Barbara points of the game with a late  touchdown at SLO. Versatile senior Bryan Perez was also there, and Melgoza called him a “big-hearted kid.”

The Dons’ schedule doesn’t get any easier as they host a strong Pacifica team for Homecoming this week.

CARPINTERIA: After paying his own respects to O’Leary, Warriors coach Ben Hallock announced the sad news of the passing of Alex Estrada, a captain on the 1994 Carpinteria squad who was killed in a car accident last week.

The Warriors, like the Dons, are still searching for their first win after missing it by inches last week. Carpinteria was held on 4th-and-goal at the six-inch line at Fillmore, and the Flashes marched down and converted the exact same play with about 90 seconds left to win 28-21.

“We were literally inches away from where we need to be,” said Hallock, who introduced senior wide receiver/defensive back Grant Coleman and senior wide receiver/kicker Damien Acevedo.

Unlike most other teams, the Warriors’ schedule gets much easier this week — they have a bye.


UCSB MEN: Tim Vom Steeg knows that his Gauchos have to play a tough schedule every year to remain one of the most prominent college programs in the nation. He had been concerned over the past few weeks that his team might suffer a letdown right after the academic year begins in late September — it has been common in the past.

“When we go to class we end up being really bad,” he joked.

That certainly wasn’t the case on Friday night, as the Gauchos shut down Indiana in a nationally televised showdown in front of over 10,000 fans at Harder Stadium. Before that, it was a 1-0 Big West win at home against UC Irvine. This Wednesday, the Gauchos face rival Cal Poly at home for another huge match.

Sophomore Danny Barrera earned SBART Athlete of the Week honors after scoring the first goal against the Hoosiers and assisting on another.

UCSB WOMEN: The UCSB women’s team didn’t have nearly as much fun as the men’s team did on Friday.

With a handful of players already suffering from the flu, the Gauchos’ bus trip to UC Irvine (expected to be about two-and-a-half hours long) took over four hours, leaving the team with very little time to eat and get prepared. The results was a 3-0 loss to the host Anteaters.

“We probably should have just stayed on the bus and come home,” said coach Paul Stumpf.

The Gauchos got off to a much better start at Northridge on Sunday, somehow scoring just 34 seconds into the match and going into the break with a 2-0 lead. An own-goal and a Matadors goal within a 3-minute span late in the match tied it up, however, and the Gauchos sneaked by with a win after Katy Roby’s goal in the 83rd.

Erica Seidman, who scored the team’s second goal, was at Harry’s with Stumpf as was Kailyn Kugler, who scored the lightining-fast opening goal.

WESTMONT MEN: Coach Dave Wolf reported that his team has begun to find continuity in its lineup and has also started to find the back of the net with more consistency. The Warriors are off to a 2-0 start in the Golden State Athletic Conference, picking up wins of 3-0 and 6-0.

Wolf introduced Andrew Wentland, a native of Camano Island, WA, who had to “scratch and claw” his way onto the team beginning in training camp two months ago, and finally got to see the field for the first time on Saturday at San Diego Christian.

“I’m proud of how he’s developed,” said Wolf, adding that the freshman will likely be seeing more minutes in the near future.

SBCC MEN/WOMEN: Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton reported that the Vaquero women are off to a 6-1-4 start overall with a 1-0-1 mark in the Western State Conference. Kelly Deckers is fourth in the state in scoring and scored five goals in a 10-0 blowout of Hancock last week. Goalie Meghan Maiwald has an incredible goals-against average of 0.37.

The men’s team picked up its first win last weekend against Oxnard. Loveton said that the defending WSC champs play “one of the toughest schedules in the state.”


DOS PUEBLOS: The biggest prep volleyball match of the school year thus far went down at Sovine Gym on Tuesday, and DP climbed out of an 0-2 hole against Santa Barbara to pick up a dramatic 5-set win. Chargers senior Samantha Wopat put up outstanding numbers in the game, tallying 19 kills with three errors to go along with eight digs and seven aces. She earned Female Athlete of the Week honors for her performance.

“Santa Barbara kind of put us back on our heels, no doubt about it,” said DP coach Todd Garrett.

Along with Garrett were Sally Yingst and Paige Craine. Garrett calls Yingst “The Rock” for her consistent play, and Craine, a setter, is referred to as “The Glue.”

“We need her… She’s one of the things that keeps our team together,” he said.

SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Dons coach John Gannon also praised Yingst on a great performance, saying that she was the difference-maker in turning the match around.

“It was all you could ask for in high school volleyball,” said Gannon of the showdown, which was a rematch of last year’s CIF Finals.

Gannon introduced junior Katy Villanueva (see “Phil Womble Ethics Award” below), and senior libero Sarah Mendoza.

“Sarah had two great digs in the first game that set a message saying ‘Hey, this match is going to be tough’,” said Gannon.

He also introduced his wife, Stacey, and their baby daughter Shea.

SAN MARCOS: Playing girls volleyball in the Channel League guarantees a tough schedule.

San Marcos’ Courtney Preston has been to SBART lunches as a player and an assistant coach for the Royals, but she made her first appearance as a head coach this week and said that she considers the Channel League to be one of the toughest leagues in the state. It’s hard for anyone to argue that, considering DP and Santa Barbara have been nationally ranked for the past few years. But even teams like Buena have started to step it up, as Preston and the Royals found out in a 4-set loss to the Bulldogs last week.

San Marcos is 3-8 overall and 0-1 in the league, with a match at Dos Pueblos on tap for Tuesday.

“My gameplan is to serve tough and pass well,” said Preston matter-of-factly.

She introduced defensive specialist and recently crowned Homecoming Queen Katie Shara as well as setter Robin Zelko.

LAGUNA BLANCA: The third-ranked Owls have yet to be defeated, sitting at 5-0 in match play and 10-0 when tournament records are included. They’ll get a test at Viewpoint on Thursday.

Coach Jim Alzina introduced senior captain Jessie Ditmore, whom he described as “goofy.” Almost on cue, Ditmore said something that had her whole table cracking up. The 3-year varsity standout is averaging five kills and four blocks per game, which is impressive considering Laguna’s schedule has yet to reach its most difficult point and Ditmore hasn’t been playing much as a result.

Alzina also brought sophomore Amanda Harvey, who is averaging 20 assists per match and is also one of the team’s better hitters.

BISHOP DIEGO: Coach Joe Reiken described his team’s Tri-Valley League-opening week against mighty La Reina and Oaks Christian as one of the toughest weeks imaginable.

“There’s no need to talk about how those matches went,” he joked.

What’s no joke is Tuesday night’s rivalry showdown with Carpinteria at The Brickhouse.

Reiken was accompanied by senior opposite Selena Schmidt and senior libero Portia Van Wingerden.

CARPINTERIA: The Warriors also had to start TVL play against La Reina and Oaks Christian and had similar results. Carpinteria went 5-5 in its own tournament the weekend before last and, like Bishop Diego, is hungry for Tuesday night’s match.

Coach Katie Dolge introduced Caitlin Wallace, who has transitioned to the middle blocker spot nicely, as well as the team’s other middle, Erin Harris.

WESTMONT: When talking about tough schedules and leagues to play in, no one can trump the task faced by the No. 24 Westmont women spikers. The Golden State Athletic Conference features eight teams ranked in the NAIA’s top 25, including five in the top 10.

The Warriors are currently 11-7 on the year and are still looking for a signature win over a top-10 team that can boost them into the national tournament. They host top-ranked Fresno Pacific on Saturday.

UCSB: The Gauchos’ hot start was cooled just a bit last week, as Big West losses to Long Beach and Fullerton left UCSB at 11-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference.

“We’re happy with that record and we’re looking forward,” said assistant coach Matt Thobe.

Thobe brought along last week’s Athlete of the Week, Rebecca Saraceno, who had 29 kills in an epic 5-set comeback against Irvine two Saturday’s ago. Thobe called the match one of the best he’s ever seen.

Next up for the Gauchos is a 4-game homestand, beginning with a visit from Cal Poly on Friday night.

SBCC: Loveton reported that the Vaqueros are off to their best start in history at 11-1 and broke into the top 10 in the state rankings after beating Canyons in a 5-setter last week.

BIG FRIDAY AWARD: Bob Dinaberg presented the weekly football award to San Marcos’ Bennie Kirkwood for his defensive play on Friday. This week’s game will be Santa Barbara vs. Pacifica, with the AM 1490 broadcast beginning at 6:45 p.m.

PHIL WOMBLE ETHICS AWARD: Katy Villanueva, a junior middle blocker on the Santa Barbara High volleyball team, is involved with ASB and works with Direct Relief International on top of being exceptional in the classroom. She surely has a laundry list of accomplishments like so many of the other outstanding kids honored at the weekly luncheons.

But Santa Barbara Athletic Director Nan Verkaik and coach Gannon kept their descriptions short and sweet when discussing Villanueva, who blushed as she stood waiting for her award.

“She’s just an all-around great girl,” wrote Verkaik in a note provided to Gannon.

“She’s everything you could ask for in a teammate,” added the coach.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.

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