Santa Barbara begins push for postseason with showdown against Ventura

Santa Barbara football coach JT Stone is joined by quarterback Frankie Gamberdella, left, and linebacker Ben Carreno.

There will be no holding back this week at practice for the Santa Barbara High football team.

The Dons are playing at Ventura on Friday night in battle between teams that shared the league title last season.

“We have a big one this week,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone declared at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. “The one school we haven’t beaten in Channel League (in his three years as coach) is Ventura High School.

“From Day 1, I told you I think the Channel League is wide open for every team in our league. This is a big one for our football program and a big one for our team. We’re going to practice like we’ve never practiced before, we’re going to give the most effort we’ve ever given.”

Stone noted that a good week of practice last week made a difference for quarterback Frankie Gamberdella and the team.

Gamberdella earned the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP award for his performance in the 47-10 win at San Marcos. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two.

“He put in a lot of work last week,” Stone said. “I’m happy and the team is happy.”

Stone also raved about the play of outside linebacker Ben Carreno. He was in on several tackles and blocked a punt in the Big Game.

“Ben is our silent assassin,” Stone said. “He’s a kid that says nothing at practice, he says nothing at any time of the day, at all. He’s a hell of a football player. He sells himself with his football skills.”

The Dons (4-3 overall) will take a 1-0 league record into Friday’s game while the Cougars (4-4) are 1-1.

“We’re trying to get to the playoffs and we have three games these next three weeks that are going to dictate that,” said Stone.

It starts with Ventura on Friday night.

FOOTBALL

SBCC

Craig Moropoulos is a huge L.A. Dodgers fan, so he felt better when the Dodgers went up 2-0 against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series after his team suffered a 31-3 loss to Hancock because

“Thank God the Dodgers picked me up,” he said.

On a positive note with his football team, Moropoulos said sophomore running back Manny Nwosu (Dos Pueblos) had his fifth straight game with more than 100 yards rushing.

The Vaqueros are home Saturday against Antelope Valley.

“We need to rise up and play well,” said Moropoulos

San Marcos

Coach Jason Fowle sported a buzz haircut on Monday.

“This is the first time I got two haircuts in 24 hours this weekend,” he said. He had a mohawk at Friday night’s 47-10 Big Game loss against Santa Barbara.

“We just didn’t match up and didn’t execute,” he said of the game. “We played hard, we gave a good effort. Hat’s off to Santa Barbara for the game they played. Congrats to Frankie, he played a really outstanding game. He’s a fun athlete to watch play the position.”

Fowle noted the loss of standout running back Tommy Schaeffer in the game didn’t help matters.

The coach introduced tight end and punter Andrew Aragon.

“He’s done a good job flipping the field for us and getting us out of bad positions,” Fowle said of Aragon’s punting. He has a 32-yard average.

Aragon also “has a way to bring levity to any situation,” the coach added.

Bishop Diego

Assistant coach Steve Robles introduced Nick Martel and Nick Kislow.

Martel, a starting cornerback, was injured in the season opener against Desert Pines, and Robles is hoping to get him back before the end of the regular season.

Kislow has come back from breaking his collarbone during summer passing league. He’s seen some action at running back.

“He’s a young man that goes all out,” said Robles.

The undefeated and Division 6 top-ranked Cardinals are coming off their bye week. They host Santa Paula in a Tri-Valley League opener on Saturday at La Playa Stadium.

“Coach (Tom) Crawford is happy with the focus the boys have showed and the defense,”

Robles said. “He’s extremely happy with how the boys are improving every day.”

Carpinteria

Coach Rick Candaele was impressed how Leo Vargas “carried the load” on offense after an injury to Isaac De Alba in the Warriors’ win over Trinity Classical.

Vargas rushed for 315 yards on 22 carries to set the school record for rushing yards in a single game, shattering the previous mark of 297 yards on 37 carries by Sean Lohse in 1991.

Candaele also introduced Lorenzo Jamie, a soccer player who is making an impact as a defensive back on the football team.

The Warriors open Frontier League play on Friday at home against Malibu.

“They look just like us,” Candaele said of the teams. “Probably the biggest difference will be the cars in the parking lot,” he crack.

He added: “There three games left. We think this is the start of our season. You win three, you win league; win two, maybe you tie for the league; you don’t win any of them, you have your banquet and start all over again.

“It’s an important three weeks.”

Laguna Blanca

Coach Shane Lopes said senior Kelvin Chen is a prime example of the coachable player who plays to his strengths and is a successful high school athlete.

“He’s intelligent, quick and averages one sack per game. He’s a reason we have three shutouts this year,” said Lopes.

The coach introduced team leader Laird Fowler.  The fiery Fowler leads by example, said Lopes.

The Owls play Thursday home game against Milken Community. The game has CIF playoff implications.

“We’re a freelance team and we have to have a certain winning percentage to make the playoffs,” Lopes said. “There’s a lot of pressure there to get the job done. We try not to talk about wins and losses, but if we really want to keep this thing going we got to get the job done.”

Laguna Blanca has a bye next week an the playoff pairings for 8-man football come out on Sunday, Oct. 29.

SOCCER

Westmont Women

Coach Chantel Cappuccelli said Saturday’s 5-2 Homecoming win over The Master’s was “a pivotal one at this point of the season.”

The Warriors are in second place in the GSAC with three matches remaining on the road.

WATER POLO

UCSB Men

The Gauchos are coming off “their hardest weekend of the season,” according to coach Wolf Wigo. They lost a 7-6 decision at San Jose State and fell 11-5 at Stanford.

“We played a great game at Stanford,” he said.”We were playing shorthanded with three of our projected starters out. The rest of the team gave its best effort.”

The Gauchos play at Long Beach State in a Gold Coast Conference game on Friday night.

“We’re looking to get hot down the stretch and have a great end of the season,” said Wigo.

SBCC Women

The Vaqueros are 17-2 and ranked No. 2 in the state.

The team is being led by a pair of international players, Emma Fraser from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and Kemi Dijkstra of the Netherlands.

Coach Chuckie Roth said Fraser “is one of the best shooters in the state.” She played for Canada at the FINA Women’s Junior World Championships “and brings a wealth of experience to our team.”

Dijkstra also possesses a strong shot. But the thing Roth especially likes about her is the “positive dynamic she’s brought to our team

“Kemi really stepped up as leader. She brings passion to our whole team.”

Carpinteria Boys

Mac Clayton and Jordan Perez have helped the Warriors go 7-2 in the Try-Valley League.

Clayton’s goalkeeper has made a huge difference for the team and Perez has helped with his shooting, calm demeanor and character.

“I have been really fortunate as well as all other kids on the team to have Jordan present,” coach Matt Organista said. “He brings a lot of sanity to the chaos of what can be high school sports some times. I know I have a pretty rowdy group of boys this year and Jordan keeps it level.

The Warriors host league-leading Malibu on Wednesday.

“I really like to put one on Malibu. In program history, we’ve never beaten Malibu,” said Organista.

Santa Barbara Boys

The Dons clinched a CIF playoff berth with a pair of Channel League wins last week against Buena and San Marcos. They play first-place Dos Pueblos at home on Tuesday, travel to co-leading Ventura on Thursday and then play five games at the Steve Pal Tournament in Orange County over the weekend,,

“We have seven games this week,” coach Mark Walsh said. We’re a little dinged up as far as injuries, so it’s probably not the best week to have seven games. But I think the guys will be tough enough to get through it.

He cited the play of sophomores Hunter Brownell and Adam Coffin. He called Brownell “one of our big-game players.

“Hunter has been really good in all of our big games. And he’s usually really good at the beginning, when we need him when maybe we’re off defensively.”

Coffin is playing a much bigger role than he did as a freshman varsity player.

“He’s one of our more serious athletes,” Walsh said. “He’s one of those guys who never wants to get out of the pool. He’s really serious about his craft.”

San Marcos

Coach Jeff Ashton said the Royals have been involved in a lot of close games this season, and players like Jack Phreaner and Sam Fuller are two reasons the team has been competitive.

He said Phreaner, a senior goalie who returned to water polo after two years, has “given us a chance in every game. Our defense has been really good in league games and a lot of that is because of Jack.”

Fuller is the team’s leading scorer after missing all of last season with an injury.

“He is our leader. He has a great attitude and is positive with teammates. He has to carry us offensively and is doing a great job,” said Ashton.

The Royals play Buena on Tuesday, Santa Ynez on Thursday and go to the Steve Pal Tournament over the weekend.

VOLLEYBALL

Westmont Women

The sixth-ranked Warriors faced some NAIA powerhouse teams at the Columbia Fall Classic in Missouri and went 2-2. The two losses came against host No. 13 Columbia and No. 5 Park, the two schools to handed them their only defeats last season at the national tournament.

“We went out there to play the best in the nation  and to really cut our teeth against the big dogs,” coach Patti Cook said. “Now we know what it takes to beat the big dogs.

“We definitely have  more work to be done. We have laundry list of what we need to do beat those teams and not just hang with them.”

She noted that the team had to overcome the loss of a starting player due to food poisoning

“It was kind of a scary thing and it definitely affected our play,” she said.

Libby Dahlberg and Taylor Beckman earned all-tournament honors.

The Warriors have six more conference matches before the GSAC Tournament.

SBCC

The Vaqueros will try to equal and break the record for consecutive wins this week. They take a 13-match win streak to Moorpark on Wednesday and play Hancock on Friday

Santa Barbara High Girls

The Dons are eliminated from playoff contention, but coach Chad Arneson said “they hope to be spoilers against Dos Pueblos and San Marcos this week” at home.

Arneson introduced seniors Claire Baker and Linnea Skinner. He said Baker, a middle blocker, is “a positive team player and a hard worker.”

On Skinner: “She is our most versatile player and has played every position on our team; she does it all,” he said. “I think Cal Poly is looking forward to having her in their beach program.”

The Dons host their annual Tournament of Champions on Friday and Saturday. The tournament brings many of the best teams in the state.

Carpinteria

Setter Aneli Silva is one of the most aggressive athletes on the team and Jenny Alaniz is the go-to outside hitter for the Warriors, said Matt Organista, reporting for coach Dino Garcia.

The Warriors play at Bishop Diego on Tuesday with a CIF playoff spot on the line.

Bishop Diego

The Cardinals, 7-1 in the Frontier League, have a big week with a match at home against Carpinteria on Tuesday and at first-place and CIF-ranked Malibu on Thursday.

Coach John Sener praised the play of junior Taylor Pate, who took over the setting duties after the starter suffered an injury.

“Her life changed about 2 1/2 weeks ago,” he said. “Taylor had to step up, she had to make a big move in her volleyball skills and dedication to this team.

“I got to tell you this girl just swallowed it and went for it. I’m so proud of her. She’s giving her all on the court.”

Sophomore Julia Gregson also has stepped up. She had a choice of starting for the JV team or being a reserve on the varsity. She chose to play on the varsity.

“Thank God we kept her,” Sener said. “She’s been an amazing addition to our back court. She is learning the game quicker than anyone you can imagine. She brings such great energy.”

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