November 16, 2009

By Blake Dorfman, PresidioSports.com

No excuses.

Cate’s 8-man football team had a big one heading into its playoff opener Saturday against Victor Valley after three key players, including a captain, were dismissed from the team for violating school rules.

“We don’t deal with excuses,” said coach Ben Soto at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon.

So, the Rams went out and cruised to a 48-0 drubbing behind four first-half touchdowns from Male Athlete of the Week Randy Person. The running back took the opening kickoff all the way home, returned an interception for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown and ran for another.

Soto said that Jeremy Miller, Lukas Ferrer and Michael Warren stepped in for the dismissed players and performed admirably, and he also introduced assistant coach Charlie Thompson. Next up for the Rams is a Friday night game against top-ranked powerhouse Windward at Carpinteria High School. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“I think the 22 players and four coaches are the only people who believe we have a chance,” said Soto.

FOOTBALL

SAN MARCOS: Cody Clark could have used knee surgery as an excuse to give up on football. The Royals running back went down in the first quarter of the season’s first game and didn’t make it back on the field until the eighth game of the year.

He saved his best performance for last, however, rushing for 167 yards and two second-half touchdowns to lead San Marcos to a city title and a 35-13 victory over Santa Barbara in Friday’s “Big Game.”

Clark’s performance made him the unanimous choice to win the Gary Blades Memorial MVP Award, with which he was presented at Harry’s.

It was a sweet ending to a tragic week for the Royals, who lost 2009 graduate and former teammate Marcos Arredondo in a car accident the weekend before.

“The kids did a really good job of rallying to support him and his family,” said coach Jeff Hesselmeyer. A memorial fund has been set up for the family at Wells Fargo Bank in La Cumbre Plaza.

The coach also brought along fullback/linebacker/tight end Kevin Blum and receiver Elias “Flea” Rodriguez.

SBCC: The Vaqueros’ season ended on Saturday at La Playa Stadium with a heartbreaking 52-46 overtime loss to East L.A.

“A loss is a loss. It is what it is, but from a fan’s standpoint it was probably one of the most exciting games at SBCC in a long time,” said head coach Craig Moropoulos. “It’s unfortunate the season’s over, because I was having a lot of fun.

The Vaqs finished at 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the American Pacific Conference. Moropoulos was joined by Carpinteria High alumnus Francisco Lugo, who converted from fullback to outside linebacker and snagged his first interception in the game.

VOLLEYBALL

LAGUNA BLANCA: The Owls are back in the CIF semifinals after sweeping Windward on the road Saturday. There were numerous excuses for why Laguna could have lost that game.

Firstly, no one bothered to tell the referees that the match was moved up from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m., leaving the Owls with two hours to kill and nothing to do. A second excuse was that Windward has a player who is six-foot-6, and coach Jim Alzina said his girls couldn’t help but run in the gym to see if their opponent was truly that tall.

“The rumor was that this girl once killed a man for snoring,” quipped Alzina.

Then there was Ms. Worthy. The daughter of Lakers great James Worthy plays for Windward, and apparently she was “mad-dogging” Laguna star Jackie Harvey before the game, giving her a good stare-down.

“If there’s one kid I’m not gonna mad dog it’s Jackie Harvey. I’d take her in a street fight anyday,” said Alzina.

Well, the Owls neutralized the 6-6 middle blocker thanks to solid play from luncheon-attendee Jessie Ditmore (who sang some impressive karaoke on the ride home) and Harvey put away 24 kills in the match. Libero Lillie Hodges, who was also at Harry’s, had her best match of the year with 14 digs.

SANTA BARBARA: The Dons are in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year, and if they are victorious on Tuesday along with Dos Pueblos, it will set up a re-match of last year’s CIF title game, which the Dons swept in front of a packed house at Robertson Gym.

First, though, the Dons will play Huntington Beach on the road.

Middle blocker Kari Garcia won’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. on Tuesday like she’s been doing for the past week, splitting time between the court and the pool as girls water polo season has begun its morning practices. She’s got the morning off before Tuesday’s match. Coach John Gannon introduced her Monday and told of a great stuff block she had down the stretch against Rancho Cucamonga in the quarterfinals.

Also present was Paige Hawkins, whom Gannon described as “the kind of utility player that every team needs to succeed.”

SBCC: The Vaqueros have been nothing short of spectacular this season, winning 18 of their last 19 matches.

“I’ve been covering sports in Santa Barbara for 30 years and Tuesday’s victory over Moorpark was one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen,” said sports information specialist Dave Loveton.

SBCC has also won 15 consecutive matches at the Sports Pavilion, and  should they make it 16 in tomorrow’s finale against Ventura, the team will win its first WSC North title since 1998.

Sometimes setters are overlooked when it comes to awards, but Kelsey Soos earned Female Athlete of the Week honors for her all-around play in the thriller against Moorpark. Three different Vaquero attackers reached 13 kills, demonstrating the balance that Soos used to guide the offense. She is also the conference leader in aces.

BASKETBALL

WESTMONT MEN: There’s no excuse for Robert Morris of Illinois, the nation’s No. 1 NAIA team — they got beat fair and square by the Warriors in a wire-to-wire Westmont win on Saturday at the Las Vegas Shootout.

“Our guys played the best we’ve played in probably five years,” said coach John Moore, who graced the crowd with his oratorial mastery for the first time this year.

He joked that he knew that the team was going to do well after pulling into the Orleans Hotel and seeing Neil Sedaka up on the big board. Along with the coach was six-foot-3 guard Preston Branson, who won a state championship with his high school team in Texas last year while also taking home Player of the Year honors and the MVP award for the state tourney.

The Warriors host powerhouse Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday.

WESTMONT WOMEN: While the men were busy taking down the NAIA’s best team, the Warrior women were sweeping through the Westminster Tournament in Utah. They defeated the host Griffins 72-63 in Saturday’s championship game behind 19 points from Katie Kittle.

“We just showed that we’re a veteran team,” said coach Kirsten Moore, who has three 4-year starters in the lineup this season. “In the past two games I’ve seen our team play some of the best defense I’ve ever seen them play.”

On Friday, the Warriors host Occidental. Senior guard Amber Stevens will be squaring off against her former teammate at Dos Pueblos, Gillian Nugent.

CROSS COUNTRY

LAGUNA BLANCA: Both Owls teams qualified for the CIF prelims before being eliminated, and junior star Parker Lilly is still going as an individual heading into Saturday’s CIF finals.

“He feels personally that he can win Division V this Saturday,” said athletic director Mike Biermann, who also told Soto that the Owls will be there to support rival Cate’s football team on Friday.

SOCCER

SAN MARCOS BOYS: After finishing at around .500 and being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, coach Brian Eisen said that he made an offseason commitment to improving the Royals’ defense. He brought along two keys to that defense in junior Ryan Gilmour and senior Juan Jimenez.

“When league play comes around we’ll set our goals high,” said Eisen.

CARPINTERIA GIRLS: Coach Lucy Carleton introduced three 4-year starters, all of whom will become the first in their family to attend college next year.

“I don’t know what we’re gonna do when they graduate,” she said.

Josie Gamez has “the best left foot ever” according to the coach, which Yadira Saldana is a natural leader and Maritza Torres is a returning captain who was also named Homecoming Queen this year.

SBCC: The Vaquero men’s team clinched it’s second consecutive WSC North title last week and is 22-2-4 in the conference over the past two seasons. The women’s team, meanwhile, is ranked 17th in the state and needs to be in the top 16 to move on into the postseason.

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