Two years ago, little Brad Ebner was chugging like a runaway train on Dos Pueblos High‘s football team. A small but quick ball carrier with a knack for tunneling through in the line, Ebner rushed for 218 yards in the Chargers’ 24-21 victory over the Lompoc Braves.
Dos Pueblos faced Lompoc again last Friday night in a historic event-the first varsity football game at DP’s Scott O’Leary Stadium-and this time the Ebner Express was going full steam in the stands. “Woooo! Woooo!” he blared when the Chargers took the field. It was a joyous sound to the fans around him because just a week after his epic game against Lompoc in 2006, there were fears that Brad Ebner would die.
He had fallen unconscious on the field after being tackled at the end of a run against the Righetti Warriors. It took several fortuitous circumstances-an ambulance and paramedics standing by at Valley Stadium, a neurosurgeon on call at Cottage Hospital-to keep his name off the short but grim list of football fatalities. There was just such a tragedy last month in the desert community of Boron, where running back/safety Vinnie Rodriguez of the Boron High Bobcats sustained a head injury and died four days later.
Ebner’s career-ending injury did not dash the courage and commitment of Dos Pueblos football players-even in his own family. His younger brother Brett, a strapping 200-pound junior, is a reserve defensive back on this year’s team. “Our daughter Brittany plays roller hockey,” said their mother Cheryl Ebner. “Why don’t they try swimming?”
“I played football, my dad played football, his dad played football,” their father Chuck Ebner said. “There were a lot of broken noses.” But there was nothing like Brad’s brain trauma, the effects of which will linger for a long time. He spent months in rehab facilities learning to walk and communicate. Now he is enrolled in the Santa Barbara High School District’s transition program for disabled students, which is housed at City College.
“He’s learning to take care of himself,” Cheryl said, but he still needs supervision. Brad’s mother had plenty of help at Friday’s game. Many former schoolmates greeted him. He hugged the girls, to the surprise of those who knew him previously as an ultra-shy young man. When he needed somebody to escort him to the boys’ room, DP junior Gerardo Becerra cheerfully volunteered.
On the football field, Lompoc overcame an early 7-0 Dos Pueblos lead-junior quarterback Zack Boytis scored the first touchdown at O’Leary Stadium-and defeated the Chargers 31-17. One of the highlights for the home team was a 60-yard TD reception by Dane Limosnero, a running back who was reminiscent of Ebner in his size (5’8″, 158 pounds) and moves. There was talk among the fans about another pint-sized back, Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers, who had been spectacular the previous night in the Beavers’ upset of USC.
“Five, four, three, two, one,” Brad Ebner said as the final seconds ticked off. Asked what he thought of the game, he said, “It was all right.” It certainly was no shame for the Chargers to lose to an unbeaten Lompoc team. The Ebner-inspired victory two years ago was one of DP’s rare successes against the Braves.
This Friday, October 3, Dos Pueblos plays at home again versus Righetti-a game that thankfully does not represent an exceedingly dark anniversary.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK:
Another mighty mite won the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s weekly award: Cody Clark, a 5’9″, 150-pound San Marcos High junior who rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns in the Royals’ 27-9 victory over Hueneme. “He’s got a ton of heart,” said San Marcos coach Dare Holdren. The female athlete award went to Santa Barbara High tennis star Rachel Decker-Sadowski, who swept her singles matches against highly ranked Beverly Hills in the Dons’ 10-8 win.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
UCSB’s belated home opener in women’s volleyball takes place this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos host Pacific. Both teams are 2-0 in the Big West Conference. UCSB, 6-7 overall, was on the road the first five weeks of the season. During that span, Kathy Gregory secured her 800th coaching victory. The only coach in the history of the program, Gregory is in her 34th year with a record of 804-353. The Gauchos return to the floor against UC Davis on Saturday night.
Top Sporting Events: October 2-12
Thursday, October 2
High school girls tennis San Marcos at Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.
High school girls golf San Marcos at Santa Barbara, Montecito C.C., 3 p.m.
High school girls volleyball Dos Pueblos at San Marcos, 4 p.m.; La Reina at Bishop Diego, 6 p.m.; St. Bonaventure at Carpinteria, 6 p.m.
Friday, October 3
High school football San Luis Obispo at Santa Barbara, 7 p.m.; Righetti at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.; San Marcos at Oxnard, 7 p.m.; Fillmore at Carpinteria, 7:30 p.m.
College women’s volleyball Bakersfield at SBCC, 6 p.m.; Pacific at UCSB, Thunderdome, 7 p.m.
College women’s soccer UCSB at UC Riverside, 7 p.m.; West L.A. at SBCC, La Playa Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 4
College men’s soccer Hope International at Westmont, 1 p.m.; UCSB at UC Irvine, 7 p.m.
College women’s soccer Hope International at Westmont, 3 p.m.
College football L.A. Southwest at SBCC, La Playa Stadium, 6 p.m.
College women’s volleyball Cuyamaca at SBCC, 6 p.m.; UC Davis at UCSB, Thunderdome, 7 p.m.; Hope International at Westmont, 7 p.m.
High school girls volleyball Redondo at Santa Barbara, 4:15 p.m.
College men’s water polo UCSB at USC, 12 p.m.
Sunday, October 5
Running Carpinteria Kiwanis Big Avocado 5K Run, Carpinteria Bluffs (Bailard Ave.), 8 a.m. Youth mile, 9 a.m.
College men’s water polo UCSB at UC Irvine, 12 p.m.
College women’s soccer UCSB at Cal State Fullerton, 5 p.m.
Monday, October 6
Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, Harry’s Plaza Cafe, 12 p.m.
Tuesday, October 7
College women’s soccer Azusa Pacific at Westmont, 3 p.m.
High school girls golf Santa Barbara at Dos Pueblos, Glen Annie GC, 2:30 p.m.
High school girls tennis Santa Barbara at Dos Pueblos, 3 p.m.
High school boys water polo Ventura at Santa Barbara, 3:15 p.m.; Buena at Dos Pueblos, 3:15 p.m.
High school girls volleyball San Marcos at Santa Barbara, 4 p.m.; Bishop Diego at Carpinteria, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, October 8
College men’s soccer Azusa Pacific at Westmont, 3 p.m.; Cal State Northridge at UCSB, Harder Stadium, 7 p.m.
High school boys water polo Oaks Christian at Carpinteria, 3:15 p.m.
High school girls volleyball Cate at Carpinteria, 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, October 9
High school girls volleyball Santa Barbara at Dos Pueblos, 6:30 p.m.
High school boys water polo Cabrillo at San Marcos, 3:15 p.m.
Friday, October 10
High school cross country Dos Pueblos Invitational, Shoreline Park, 2:45 p.m.
High school football Arroyo Grande at San Marcos, 7 p.m.; Santa Barbara at Oxnard Pacifica, 7 p.m.; Dos Pueblos at Rio Mesa, 7 p.m.; Bishop Diego at Grace Brethren, Moorpark College, 7:30 p.m.
College women’s soccer Cal State Northridge at UCSB, Harder Stadium, 7 p.m.; Oxnard at SBCC, La Playa Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 11
College men’s soccer UC Davis at UCSB, Harder Stadium, 7 p.m.
College women’s volleyball UCSB at Long Beach State, 7 p.m.
High school football (eight man) Faith Baptist at Laguna Blanca, 1 p.m.
High school girls volleyball Huntington Beach at San Marcos, 3 p.m.
Sunday, October 12
Running/Cycling Santa Barbara Duathlon, East Beach, 8 a.m.; Outfooters 12K/5K Fun Run/Walk, Dos Pueblos High, 8:30 a.m.