By Blake Dorfman, PresidioSports.com
Distractions and superstition are two things coach Craig Moropoulos claims he always tries to stay away from when it comes to his SBCC football team.
Well, he couldn’t avoid either on Saturday when the Vaqueros played at L.A. Valley, but it turned out to be just fine.
As the Vaquero bus pulled into the parking lot, Moropoulos noticed that high-end luxury cars were all over the place. As it turned out, they were all there for a basketball fund-raiser at the school’s gym. Well, the Vaqs were using the locker room in that gym, and Moropoulos knew that it would be a big distraction.
When he was in the hallway, he noticed a tall man walking through the corridor with a swarm of people around him. As the man approached, he stopped and asked Moropoulos if he would be coaching the football game that day.
After the coach replied in the affirmative, the tall man insisted that he shake hands with all of the SBCC coaches, and ended up taking pictures with many of the players.
The man was Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“I’ve never seen a distraction like that create more magic… We came out and crushed L.A. Valley,” said Moropoulos at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon.
Tristan Carter magically avoided tackles all night en route to 147 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in SBCC’s 41-24 victory. Moropoulos introduced two key players who also happen to be local products — wide receiver Art Gonzalez of Bishop Diego and center Moses Martinez of Dos Pueblos.
DOS PUEBLOS: It was the wrong kind of magic that worked against the Chargers on Friday, as a blocked PAT led to a 28-27 loss against Ventura at Scott O’Leary Stadium.
Luncheon-atendee Michael Spiritosanto, a junior running back, rushed 13 times for 103 yards in the contest.
Next up is Friday’s matchup with juggernaut St. Bonaventure at Buena High School. The Seraphs have never lost a league game, but Uyesaka is hoping to absorb some of the good vibes that the Vaqueros picked up on Saturday.
“We’ve got a call into Magic, Worthy and everybody else, so I think maybe we’ve got a chance,” he said.
CARPINTERIA: Paul Aguilar’s nickname is “Munchie,” but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change it to “Magic” after his performance in Carpinteria’s 28-7 win over Bishop Diego in Saturday’s “Little Big Game” at La Playa Stadium.
Aguilar, the team’s quarterback, rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries for the Warriors, who picked up their first win of the season. He also had a strong game defensively. It all wound up earning him the Male Athlete of the Week award amidst stiff competition.
Coach Ben Hallock also introduced junior Johnny Jimenez, who has played numerous positions this year — including quarterback when Aguilar was injured against Oaks Christian — but has settled in at outside linebacker and picked up his first interception on Saturday.
The Warriors host Santa Clara in Thursday’s season finale. On Wednesday, the Warriors will officially dedicate their stadium as Memorial Stadium, with the ceremony set for 11 a.m. on 11-11 (Veteran’s Day).
SAN MARCOS: Quarterback James Crook had his best game of the season Friday, completing 7-of-10 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, but the Royals fell to a very strong Buena squad 38-13.
The Royals play Santa Barbara in “The Big Game” on Sut Puailoa Field at Valley Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m Friday.
Coach Jeff Hesselmeyer’s thoughts were far from football on Monday, however, as the San Marcos community endured a tragedy over the weekend when 2009 graduate Marcos Arredondo, who played football, was killed in a car accident.
“We will be playing this game for him,” said Hesselmeyer.
SANTA BARBARA: “The Big Game” will be the Dons’ last chance to avoid a winless season. Host St. Bonaventure handed Santa Barbara a 56-0 loss on Friday.
“We need it… Maybe we’ll get some magic,” said coach Jaime Melgoza of Friday’s game.
Along with Melgoza were Bryan Perez, who stepped in and started at quarterback in the game, as well as two-way standout Taylor Dawson and sophomore Bradford Gellison, who racked up 11 solo tackles against the Seraphs.
Melgoza also introduced assistant coaches J.R. Herrera and Paul Nicholson.
LAGUNA BLANCA: Ray Robitaille has been working at Laguna Blanca for 30 years, and he pointed out that it has been 10 years since the Owls have been participating in SBART luncheons. He added that it’s been a huge boost in putting Laguna athletics “on the map.”
The Owls were 1-7 heading into last week’s season finale at Dunn and played an uninspired first half, taking a 31-0 deficit into the locker room. They emerged, however, and won the second half 21-0.
The team only graduates two players and did not suffer any major injuries this year, according to Robitaille. He also said that the school is extremely excited to be cutting the ribbon on a 3,500 square-foot addition to its athletics facilities very soon.
WESTMONT: Warriors cross-country/track coach Russell Smelley has been a busy man recently, but all the hard work is paying off. He’s the president of the committee overseeing the reconstruction of the 14 faculty homes which were burned down nearly a year ago in the Tea Fire. He happily reported that his family as well as the others have moved back into their new homes.
He’s also playing a big role, obviously, in the new rubber track being put in as part of the school’s massive athletic facilities overhaul.
Amidst all of that, his Warrior men’s cross-country team managed to win its first Golden State Athletic Conference championship since 1997 last week.
Jacob Goodin finished second overall in the race to lead the Warriors, who also got a strong performance from senior Sean Adams. Garrison Gourdeau was the third Warrior to cross the line, taking 16th place after a tumultuous year of undergoing foot surgery and dealing with his mother’s cancer diagnosis.
The women’s team finished sixth, with Chrissa Trudelle earning a spot in the NAIA Individual Championships an individual.
Smelley also reported that longtime local track coach Sam Adams, who has been battling Alzheimer’s, suffered a fall last week but has rallied back and is still with us thanks to the exceptional care provided by his wife, Sue.
Smelley also jokingly contested the Aguilar’s Athlete of the Week selection, arguing that Goodin rushed for 8,000 meters, or 8,748 yards, without even being touched in his race.
It would certainly take a lot of magic for him to do that on the football field.
UCSB: The Gaucho women magically turned a seventh-place finish in the Big West in 2008 to a conference title in 2009. It was their fifth title in seven years.
“We had a year to forget last year but a summer to remember,” said coach Pete Dolan.
Crystal Reed led the team with a fourth-place finish in her first Big West Conference Championship, earning all-conference honors as a result. She was at Harry’s along with fellow All-Big West honoree Breanne Strenkowski.
The men’s team took second place after finishing fourth last year, and were represented at the luncheon by Waleed Totari.
Both teams will head to the University of Oregon for the NCAA West Regional on November 14th.
DOS PUEBLOS: Like the Gauchos, the women of Dos Pueblos captured a conference title last week at the Channel League Championships. It was the Chargers’ first title since 1996.
Coach Leslie Roth introduced junior Sophie Pollack, who was the third Charger to cross the line in the race, as well as team captain Helen Wang. Sergey Sushchikh ran away with the individual title on the boys side, and the boys will also move along to CIF as a team after a second-place performance at the league championships.
Sophomore Dylan Zukin has worked his way up to the varsity level this season, and junior Jacob Bartholomew was described as “an incredible teammate” by his coach.
SAN MARCOS: Both Royals teams finished fourth in the league championships, which ended their seasons. What’s noteworthy, however, is that six out of the seven varsity Royal girls posted lifetime personal-bests on the course, and that all seven of the boys did the same.
Standout Evan Bradford led the way with a personal-best time of 15:25, which is the second fastest the Royals have ever had. He will be moving on to compete in CIF as an individual.
Coach Lawrence Stehmeier was accompanied by senior captain Jenny Haden and freshman Allie Kraynyk from the girls team and juniors Parker Funk and Philip David from the boys side.
SANTA BARBARA: Volleyball coach John Gannon pinch-hit for Dons cross-country coach Olivia Perdices and introduced Santa Barbara’s top boys and girls runner. Briggs Deardorff will move on in individual competition after finishing third overall with a personal-best time of 15:23. Soccer star Brianna Lopez was the top girls finisher despite running on a sprained ankle.
SBCC: The Vaquero women were ninth in the Western State Conference in 2008 but are remarkably eighth in Southern California this season. They qualified for the State Meet in Fresno on November 26th, as did Mark Moreno and Matt Organista from the men’s squad.
SBCC: The amount of success with local prep volleyball teams this year has been tremendous, and it may have taken some attention away from the remarkable season being had by the SBCC women’s team. The Vaqueros have won 17 of their last 18 matches and are 17-2 with a 6-1 mark in the Western State Conference.
San Marcos High graduate Jenn Waddill is tops in the conference in hitting percentage and Nicole Bergmann is right behind her in second. Santa Ynez High grad and setter Kelsey Soos leads the conference in aces. The only loss in the 18-match span has been to Moorpark, which pays a visit to the Sports Pavilion on Tuesday night.
UCSB: The Gauchos had just moved into first-place in the Big West when they were beaten by the conference’s last-place team, Cal Poly, on Saturday.
“That’s kind of how our league goes,” said assistant coach Matt Thobe, whose squad is currently in second place at 9-4.
The Gauchos’ last two home games are on the 21st and 24th of November.
WESTMONT: The No. 25 Warriors were swept by No. 10 Biola and lost a 5-set heartbreaker to Vanguard last week. Tuesday’s final rankings will determine the at-large bids into the NAIA Tournament, and the Warriors will need to move up 10-12 spots to make it, according to Sports Information Director Ron Smith.
DOS PUEBLOS: The top-ranked Chargers host San Luis Obispo on Tuesday in the first round of the Division I-A playoffs. DP finished the season at 25-2 overall with an 8-0 record in the Channel League. Coach Todd Garrett praised Gannon for putting on a great Tournament of Champions two weekends ago.
“The only thing he couldn’t do was help us beat Mitty,” joked Garrett.
The coach introduced middle blocker Kelcey Chaffin and libero Megan Smith, who served the Chargers all the way back from an 18-24 deficit to a 26-24 win in a set against Newport Harbor during the TOC.
SANTA BARBARA: Gannon’s Dons are the No. 2 team in the division behind Dos Pueblos with a record of 18-8, 6-2. Buena finished third in the Channel League and Ventura was fourth but received an at-large bid.
“I think it says a lot about our league that four teams made playoffs,” said Gannon.
Santa Barbara hosts Notre Dame Academy in the first round on Tuesday.
LAGUNA BLANCA: The Owls wrapped up the regular season at 18-1 and 6-0 in the Condor League, including an 18-0 record in sets in the conference while only allowing an opponent to reach 20 points once. Coach Jim Alzina said that one of the best parts about the success is that nearly every player got to play in every match.
Laguna finished sixth in the CIF polls, but somehow managed to earn a bye in the first round while teams ranked higher will have to play.
“I don’t know how that worked, but I’m not going to call and complain,” said Alzina.
Along with him at Harry’s were Mackenzie Scarborough and Fiona Jessup, who are also both soccer stars for Laguna’s reigning CIF-semifinalist squad.
Alzina said that the two are inseparable, and also very much like one another.
“They’re probably sisters and they don’t even know it,” he said.
CARPINTERIA: The Warriors had a rough year in the daunting Tri-Valley League, and coach Katie Dolge said that being moved down to the Frontier League next year may be a very positive thing.
“Maybe that will give us some confidence as a program so that we can build back up,” she said.
She was joined by Amanda Leonard and Yadira Saldana.
WESTMONT: The Westmont women fell to the nation’s No. 2 team, Azusa Pacific, in the first round of the GSAC Tournament last week. The men’s team, meanwhile, made it to the second round to face top-seeded The Master’s College. The teams lost in the shootout 5-3, but in the books it goes down as a tie for the defending GSAC tourney champs.
“That means that over the past two years we have no losses in five GSAC tournament games,” said Smith.
SBCC: The Vaquero men’s team is in first place by two points with games against second-place Canyons and Hancock left on the schedule.