Caines talks about Dons’ miraculous recovery

Santa Barbara High football coach Doug Caines retooled an old saying in explaining how his football team played during the first half of Friday night’s game against Rio Mesa. The Dons made a slew of mistakes and trailed 28-7 at the half.

“We shot every toe off that we have,” Caines told the audience at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. He was playing off the idiom, “We shot ourselves in the foot.”

“But the kids never quit,” he quickly pointed out.

The Dons dug their heels in, played with heart and sole and roared back to score a stunning 48-35 victory to even their record at 2-2.

“I think it was the best game I’ve ever witnessed as a Santa Barbara High fan, player or coach,” said Caines.

He introduced Cheroke Cunningham, Zack Ortiz and Miguel Sandoval as three key players in the comeback win.

On Cunningham: “He wants to be a next-level student and athlete and he backs that up by his studies, his performance and attendance,” Caines said. “I couldn’t be more excited that we can showcase his abilities because he lost his junior year to injuries. He’s an exciting kid to watch and we’re excited to continue to watch him.”

Caines said Zack Ortiz fired up the team at halftime. “Zack is the emotional heart of our team. I told the team if we can keep our toes from being shot off, we can execute. And, we were able to do that. Zack rallied the troops and that was a reason we were able to do that.”

The coach said Sandoval has been a “breakthrough player the last two games” and deserves to be on the field. He made a game-ending interception to secure the memorable victory.

The Dons travel to Centennial of Bakersfield on Friday.

In other football news:

San Marcos coach Anthony Linebaugh brought Tony Zuniga and Isaac Garcia, two players who reaffirmed their commitment to football and have played key roles in the Royals’ success.

Zuniga had 197 yards in return yards in the 49-9 win over Hueneme, including a 68-yard punt return for touchdown. “It was nice to see him have success,” said Linebaugh.

Garcia has been the anchor of the offensive line at center.

The 4-0 Royals host Channel Islands on Friday and the game will be broadcast on KTMS, 990 AM.

Dos Pueblos assistant Matt York said playing powerhouse Lompoc was a good measuring stick for the Chargers.

“For the most part, the guys did a good job. Toward the end our guys got a little worn down,” he said

York noted that Angel Davison scored his first high school touchdown and Micah Ruiz played well as a fill-in at center and didn’t botch a snap while going up against one of the top defensive players in the state from Lompoc.

The Chargers (1-3) will look to bounce back against Rio Mesa on the road on Friday.

Carpinteria’s Ben Hallock said his team never established an offensive rhythm, yet still played well in beating long-time rival Santa Ynez.

He gave kudos to Ruben Garcia, Joel Montes and Connor Kelsey for their contributions to the victory, which made the Warriors 4-0.

The Warriors host Santa Clara on Friday.

Conrad Perry and Daniel Moghtader came out for football during the middle of the season last year, and Laguna Blanca coach Shane Lopes is glad they did.

The seniors, Perry, a center, and Moghtader, a defensive lineman, played solid games in the Owls’ 49-9 Condor League win at Villanova Prep.

The Owls will play under the lights Friday at Coast Union in Cambria.

“It’s our first and only game under the lights,” he said. “I’m really happy these guys will get to play under the lights on Friday night. High school football, that’s what it’s all about.”

Lopes made a pitch that he’d welcome any local school to allow Laguna Blanca to play a game at a lighted stadium.

SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos said his team’s first-half performance against Compton was similar to Santa Barbara High’s against Rio Mesa.

We opened up and played the worst first half of football I’ve been involved in,” said Moropoulos.

Fortunately for the Vaqueros, they were down only 3-0.

Quarterback Jarred Evans brought them back with a big second half, throwing four touchdown passes in a 27-24 win.

“He was decidedly was the difference in the game. I’m proud of his effort, and proud he didn’t get down and give up,” said Mororpoulos

The coach also praised 5-8 defensive lineman Daniel Gonzalez. “He’s the most vertically challenged guy on the football team, but not the size of his heart,” said Moropoulos.

The Vaqueros host L.A. Valley in a battle for 3-0 teams on Saturday at 1 p.m.

COLLEGE SOCCER

UCSB men’s coach Tim Vom Steeg made one his shortest talks at the luncheon. But he had a good reason: his team played Monday night against New Mexico.

Vom Steeg was impressed by the energy in the Ranchero Room.

“There’s a little bit of energy in this room, which hasn’t been around for awhile,” he said. “That’s great because it means lots of teams are winning. I always think the Round Table is really fun and festive when everybody shows up and is winning and feeling good.”

UCSB women’s coach Paul Stumpf gave Vom Steeg a shout out for winning his 200th game as coach of the Gauchos last Friday.

“On a national level, the guy has been an absolute force in men’s soccer in Division 1,” Stumpf said. “On a more local level, he’s been a huge part of transforming soccer in Santa Barbara. Our stadium and facilities, he’s been heavily involved in. We, as a women’s program, can’t thank him enough. We’ve benefitted greatly to all the things he’s brought to soccer in Santa Barbara.”

On his team, Stumpf said it’s 6-3-2 after winning only five matches last year. More importantly, he noted, “We feel like our players have commitment and a belief.”

He introduced center backs Miranda Cornejo and Taylor Gehring as two players who have been vital to the team’s success.

Westmont coach Kristi Kiely said her team gained a new perspective about the game from a spring trip to Uganda and Kenya, where they ran clinics for hundreds of kids on poor fields.

“The game is to be enjoyed and shared,” she said.

The Warriors enjoy a 6-0-1 record going into GSAC play this week.

Westmont men’s assistant Tovi Eliasen said the Warriors have turned things around and are 4-1.

He noted the play of Cody Howen, a player he remembers at San Marcos when he was coaching at Dos Pueblos.

“I lost track of him and meet him at Westmont,” Eliasen said. “There’s no way this is Cody. Cody was 5-5 at San Marcos and now he’s 6-foot, super strong and a fantastic midfielder for us. It’s great seeing him play so well for us.”

GIRLS TENNIS
Santa Barbara High tennis coach Greg Tebbe introduced two of his five starting seniors: Megan Grant and Lisa Santry, the team captains. Both are 3-year all-Channel League players, and Grant is a two-time league champion in doubles. She is 15-1 in singles this season, while Santry is 13-1.

The Dons are ranked seventh in CIF Division 1 and play five teams ranked ahead of them over the next month. Four of those matches will be in Santa Barbara.

GIRLS GOLF
First-year coach Sarah Ashton said her San Marcos team is off to a 6-0 start.

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