Cate vs. Laguna is a CIF top-10 battle

It’s rivalry week for the local prep school eight-man football teams as Cate travels to Laguna Blanca on Saturday.

Cate athletic director Wade Ransom gave props to Shane Lopes’ Laguna Blanca squad, which has only 14 players on its roster. The Owls are 3-1, 1-0 in the Condor League and ranked No. 6 in latest CIF poll.

“They’re a top-10 team for a reason, because they’re good,” Ransom said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

Cate, also 3-1, 1-0, is ranked fourth in the eight-man Division 1 poll.

Ransom introduced Nik Pajouh as one of the key players for the Rams.

“Nik is unique for a couple of reasons,” he said of the senior captain. “One, you don’t have too many kids who start their senior season at 15 years old. Hence, his nickname, ‘The Pa-genius.’ Most great football teams have an undersized guy who acts like a bulldozer on both sides of the ball, and that’s Nik.”

Ransom expects a tough game from Laguna Blanca.

“Hopefully, we can bring our A game on Saturday,” he said.

Lopes recognized the play of Peter Rusack and quarterback Stephen McCaffery in the win at Coast Union. Rusack, who played a different position on defense because of injuries, pinned Coast Union deep with his punting, blocked a PAT and recovered a fumble at the 5-yard line. McCaffery had a monster game, passing for six touchdowns and rushing for another.

“He has all the qualities you look for in a quarterback,” said Lopes, a former star QB at Dos Pueblos. “He’s tough, he’s intelligent, he’s composed, he’s great leader and he was truly a field manager on Friday.”

Lopes said the kickoff for the Cate game is at 2 p.m.

Anthony Linebaugh’s 5-0 San Marcos team puts its undefeated record on the line Friday at defending CIF champion Nordhoff in Ojai.

“We know it’s a daunting task, but we can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Linebaugh praised the play of offensive lineman/linebacker Sebastian Adams and receiver/defensive back Joe Estrada in the 38-33 comeback win over Channel Islands.

“it was definitely one where the fans got their money’s worth and the coaching staff was stressed out about it,” he said of the win over Channel Islands.

Bishop Diego defensive coordinator Ralph Molina said he was glad to be wearing a headset on the sidelines at Inglewood on Friday night because there was so much noise throughout the game.

“It was very loud,” he said. “They have more kids in their band, cheerleaders and drill team than we have in our whole school. They played from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. And, of course, (the stadium is) right over LAX, so we had planes flying over us the entire game. Thank God I had the headset on because it was so loud.”

Molina lauded junior running backs Danny Molina (his son) and Abel Gonzalez for picking up the slack as senior Aidan Williams recovers from mononucleosis. Molina has rushed for more than 200 yards and averages six yards a carry, while Gonzalez has nearly 500 yards with a 9.5 average per rush. He’s run for more than 100 yards in four straight games.

The Cardinals (4-0) travel to Santa Fe Christian (3-2) in Solana Beach on Saturday. SFC suffered its only regular season loss to Bishop Diego and earned a berth in the CIF Division 3 state championship last year.

Santa Barbara coach Doug Caines said his team fumbled four times at Centennial of Bakersfield and that made it difficult to win a game.

“Our kids had chances and we didn’t capitalize,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to execute a lot better and the score doesn’t reflect that.”

Caines introduced Jordan Guzman and Russell Enholm as key players.

The Dons (2-3) play their Homecoming game Friday against Pacifica.

Ben Hallock said quaterback Ian Craddock, linemen Jacob Saenz and Nick Estrada, and linebacker Jesus “Chuche” Lozano were instrumental in the Warriors’ 42-19 win over Santa Clara, which gave them a 5-0 record.

Carpinteria plays St. Monica at St. Bernard’s High in Playa del Rey on Friday.

“We’re hoping to close out the preseason with another victory to set ourselves up going into league,” said Hallock.

Dos Pueblos got solid play from strong safety Alfonso Ponce de Leon and multidimensional player Leshon Bell in a 28-0 win at Rio Mesa, said coach Nate Mendoza.

The Chargers forced three turnovers and converted all three into touchdowns. Bell had a fumble recovery for a score.

“We want to stick to the motto: Get better every week,” said Mendoza.

In their last pre-league game, the Chargers (2-3) play host to San Juan Hills (4-1) on Friday.

Craig Moropoulos thanked Presidio Sports for a picture that shows him celebrating after Saturday’s 25-22 win over L.A. Valley that was decided by a field goal with seven seconds left.

He liked the picture so much he made it his wallpaper on his cell phone.

“I’m showing my emotion because I love the win, and I’m proud it,” he said while holding up the phone. “Sometime you get caught up in a lot of stuff you got to do as a head coach. When that happens, I’m going to keep looking at that picture.”

Moropoulos wanted to dispel a couple of stereotypes associated with football. First, the game is not all about the skill players scoring touchdowns. It’s about the guys up front in the trenches. He said any skill guy that scores should “go hug an offensive lineman.”

The other stereotype was SBCC doesn’t have local kids on the team. Two offensive linemen proved that to be wrong. Xavier De Alba is a guard from Carpinteria High and Matt Escobar of Santa Barbara High plays at offensive tackle.

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