Doug Caines had the perfect comment to start a week of rivalry football games in Santa Barbara.
“There’s just kick-ass football going on in this town right now,” Caines told the crowd at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.
Caines went down the list of all the football-playing schools in the area — Santa Barbara High, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Bishop Diego, Carpinteria, SBCC, Cate and Laguna Blanca — and noted that everybody is giving it their all.
“I’m so excited to be part of this era of Santa Barbara football,” he said.
His Dons (3-3) open Channel League play Friday at home against Dos Pueblos (2-4) in a rematch of last year’s league championship game. Santa Barbara won last year’s finale to earn a share of the title.
Caines introduced running back Ramon Harper, cornerback Russell Enholm and center Josh Kass as three key players from last Friday’s win over Pacifica. Harper rushed for 221 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns, Enholm intercepted three passes and Kass anchored an improved offensive line.
Dos Pueblos football coach Nate Mendoza made note of Santa Barbara’s explosive offense.
“Santa Barbara showed us some amazing offense Friday night. We are preparing for it,” he said.
Mendoza called league play the “second part of the season they’re looking forward to. Everybody is 0-0 at this point,” he said.
He brought two key members of his defensive unit: senior cornerback Nick Aguilara and senior fullback/linebacker David Blevins.
The other rivalry game this weekend is Saturday’s Tri-Valley League opener between unbeaten Bishop Diego (5-0) and Carpinteria (6-0) at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium.
“It’s rare to start a league with teams that are undefeated, playing with confidence, ranked in the top four in the division and play games that have immediate playoff implications,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford.
The top four teams in the Northwest Division are from the TVL. Bishop is No. 1, Nordhoff (5-0), the defending champion, is second, Oak Park (5-1) is third and Carpinteria (6-0) is ranked fourth.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Crawford said of the game against Carpinteria. “We have a lot of respect for Ben (Hallock), his staff and the guys at Carp. We’re looking forward to a great game.”
Hallock echoed the respect for Crawford and his staff.
“They do a masterful job with their team,” he said. “Bishop Diego is very good. They have a lot of experience, they’re very motivated, they play fast, they play hard and they play very smart. Their offense is very good, but their defense is just nails. It’s going to be a big challenge.
“We’re going to be ready,” he added. “We’re going to play hard and try to play fast also. We hope we can play football like we’ve played the last six weeks.”
Hallock recognized three players, game-breaking receiver Bryson Frazer, special teams player Abraham Martinez and Octavio Velasquez.
Crawford gave props to two-way lineman John “Cowboy” Samson. “He’s not the biggest kid but a kid with big heart and a great motor. He’s certainly an impact player for us.”
San Marcos (5-1) opens league play at home Friday against Ventura (1-5). Coach Anthony Linebaugh called last Friday’s 48-7 defeat at Nordhoff “a very disappointing loss.” It was the first loss of the season for the Royals.
The coach named nose tackle Jose Lara and wide receiver/defensive back Cameron Whitney as the bright spots in the game. He added that Whitney played with a broken leg in the first game of the year against Cabrillo and returned an interception for a touchdown. He has since rehabbed the injury and is playing well.
Dave Soto, assistant football coach at Cate School, gave props to Laguna Blanca quarterback Stephen McCaffery, saying he’d put him up against the area quarterbacks who play 11-man football. Soto introduced Dean Smith, a sophomore running back, who has actually been involved with the football program for the last nine years.
“He started off as a water boy for us nine years ago,” Soto said. “He’s a faculty kid. His father has been a long-time math teacher for us. He’s a perfect ambassador for us.”
The Rams play host to Division 2 top-ranked Desert Chapel on Saturday.
Laguna Blanca football coach Shane Lopes said he hopes his team can respond after last Saturday’s 63-26 loss against Cate. The Owls play Thacher. Lopes lauded Hughes Williamson for his toughness.
SBCC football coach Craig Moropoulos didn’t want to boast too much being 5-0.
“I learned from my father to stay humble and make sure you recognized the people around that are important to you,” he said.
Moropoulos introduced cornerback Davonte’ Jackson, quarterback Josh Martin and defensive coordinator Kevin Almlie. The Vaqueros have a bye this week.
After losing 10 seniors off a CIF finalist team, Santa Barbara High coach Mark Walsh has a young roster this season.
“In my 20 years of coaching I’ve never started freshmen and I’m starting three,” Walsh said. “Things are a little different for us this year.”
He introduced a pair of freshmen, Sawyer Rhodes and Adam Gross.
San Marcos coach Jeff Ashton said he was missing several seniors over the weekend at the San Luis Obispo Tournament because they were taking the SAT. He did have senior Emerson Pizzinat, who had already taken the test.
“He stepped up as a leader,” Ashton raved. The coach also lauded the work ethic of George Kusis. Those two players helped the Royals finish third in the tournament.
Dos Pueblos AD Dan Feldhaus introduced Blake Parrish and Scott Mahan as impact players for the Chargers.
Carpinteria coach Bryan Swarm said he’s starting three freshmen, including one in goal. His experienced players include Thomas Fly and Casey Walter.
On his team, “We have moments of brilliance and moments of knuckleheadness,” said Swarm.
UCSB men’s water polo assistant John Abdou said the Gauchos are ranked sixth in the country. They play their first home game on Oct. 20 against Cal. Abdou introduced new assistant, former Gaucho Ryan McMillan.
The starting varsity runners at the city schools have been training for some upcoming big meets, starting Saturday in Clovis.
“We’ve done great work of pushing them hard, now it’s time to start running,” said San Marcos coach Lawrence Stehmeier. He introduced Ryan Sorensen, Eric Salas, Rachel Tracy and Adilene Aldapa.
DP coach Leslie Wiggins Roth thanked the community that regularly uses Shoreline Park for embracing the Dos Pueblos Invitational. The meet drew 1100 athletes. Wiggins introduced Tatianna Schluep and Racquel Fygensen as key members of her team.
Charger boys coach Micks Purnell brought Paul Wren and Jack Randmaa.
Other runners in attendance were Bill Mortenson of Laguna Blanca, Tanner Munizich, Izzy Garza and Andrew Hunter of Santa Barbara
SBCC Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton reported the SBCC will host its Invitational on Friday at Shoreline Park.