It may seem over-the-top to call a high school football matchup “The Big Game” in capitalized words, but that’s been the tradition for three generations of San Marcos and Santa Barbara High players. The Royals and Dons will clash in the 48th Big Game on Friday, October 26, at San Marcos. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m., two hours earlier than usual, so that the security detail will be available later for the start of the Halloween weekend in Isla Vista.
The emotions riding in a cross-town game often produce results that belie the teams’ records, a situation that should suit San Marcos, which is 0-7, while Santa Barbara is 5-2. A year ago, however, the Dons were winless going into the game and remained that way after the Royals won 24-13. Santa Barbara still leads the overall series 25-22.
San Marcos coach Dare Holdren downplayed his team’s chances this week at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon. “We haven’t got it done all year,” he said. “They’re obviously favored.”
But Santa Barbara’s Will Gonzales, who was head coach at San Marcos until last season, said, “I know Dare will have them ready. They’ll play with a lot of heart, a lot of emotion.”
SNAPPY PAIR: Two South Coast high school grads are starting centers in Pac-10 football. Alex Mack (San Marcos), a junior at Cal, is one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award honoring the nation’s top lineman. UCLA senior Chris Joseph (Santa Ynez) is an Academic All-American. Majoring in geography, he has the best overall GPA (3.969) of any UCLA athlete who’s been in school for two or more years. At the Rose Bowl last Saturday, Joseph and the Bruins got the better of Mack and the Golden Bears, 30-21.
LUCKY NUMBER: There are a billion reasons-TV dollars-for the nighttime scheduling of October baseball, but I’ll never deem it acceptable. I was on the East Coast during the Colorado-Arizona series and had to stay up until 3 a.m. to watch the conclusion of game two, won by the Rockies 3-2 in 11 innings. Ryan Spilborghs of Santa Barbara scored the winning run. He led off the inning with an infield single-one of many balls that bounced just right for the Rockies-and strolled home on a bases-loaded walk. Look for Spilly as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter in the World Series. He wears number 19, which has special significance. It was the number worn by the late Eric Pintard, a pitcher and coach of the semi-pro Santa Barbara Foresters. Spilborghs played for the Foresters, as did Washington Nationals outfielder Ryan Church and San Francisco Giants infielder Kevin Frandsen-and they also wear number 19.
YANKED AROUND: Foresters manager Bill Pintard, Eric’s dad, on the World Series: “On paper, it’s got to be Boston, but I want the upstarts to win. The Rockies are refreshing to watch.” Bill, a longtime Yankees fan, also said he’s “off their bandwagon” after their treatment of Joe Torre. “I’m disgusted,” he said. “The Yankees gave him an offer they knew he would turn down. They thought they could save face, but everybody can see right through it.”
OLYMPIC SHOTS: “You’re either an Olympian or not in swimming,” Mark Warkentin said earlier this year. The Santa Barbara distance swimmer took a big step toward removing the “not” label last Sunday. He won the U.S. 10-kilometer trials for the Open Water World Championships. The top 10 finishers at the worlds next spring in Seville, Spain, will automatically qualify for the 2008 Olympics. “I have never [previously] won an important race in my life,” Warkentin said after he held off three-time national champion Chip Peterson in Fort Myers, Florida. “At 27 and at the end of my career, this probably would have been the last race.” : Congratulations to S.B. beach volleyballers Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, honored as the team of the year at last week’s AVP awards banquet. Dalhausser also took home the most valuable and best offensive player awards, and Rogers shared the best defensive award with Sean Rosenthal. Besides winning 10 AVP tournaments, Dalhausser and Rogers excelled overseas and gained the inside track toward the Beijing Olympic Games