Revenge was on the mind of the Santa Barbara High football team during its 42-14 season opening victory over Buena Friday night.
The Dons had the game circled all off-season after Buena kept them out of the playoffs as a result of a devastating loss in last year’s regular season finale. The time finally came for Santa Barbara to exorcise its demons, and the host Bulldogs couldn’t match that intensity.
“I’m actually excited for the boys. They are the team that put us out of the playoffs last year,” said Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone. “We’ve been hungr,y and I told the kids, ‘This is the most important game on the schedule’ just because of what happened last year.”
Frankie Gamberdella came out hot, completing his first five passes on the opening drive of the game. He capped off the drive with a five-yard swing pass to Jacob Forney for a touchdown, giving the Dons a 7-0 lead with 11:01 remaining in the first quarter.
The Dons took a 21-0 lead after Gamberdella connected with Dakota Hill and Moki Nacario for touchdown passes of 32 and 15 yards, respectively, in the second quarter. Forney punched in a three-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining in the first half, increasing the Santa Barbara lead to 28-0.
“We wanted to come out strong and show everyone what we’ve got,” Gamberdella said. “I think we accomplished that tonight, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Gamberdella completed 23/42 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 129 yards, including a dazzling 73-yard touchdown run that increased the Santa Barbara lead to 35-7 with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Santa Barbara’s backup quarterback, sophomore Deacon Hill, took over on the next drive and tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Phil Luce, who found space over the middle and raced to the end zone.
Dakota Hill hauled in nine catches for 113 yards to highlight a star-studded receiving core.
The Dons will host former Channel League rival Ventura at La Playa Stadium next Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Santa Paula 24 San Marcos 20
San Marcos held a 20-10 lead at halftime, but went scoreless in the second half. Ben Partee tossed first half touchdown passes to Amari Dennis and Josh Brown. Dennis also returned a kickoff for a touchdown after receiving a lateral from Tommy Schaeffer.
Bishop Diego 42 Cabrillo 0
Jake Engel tossed four first half touchdown passes. Isaiah Morones hauled in two of those touchdowns. The Bishop Diego defense held Cabrillo to 83 yards of total offense.
Carpinteria 17 Rancho Alamitos 14 OT
The Warriors overcame a 14-0 deficit to force overtime and came away with the victory.
Dos Pueblos 31 Foothill 24
The Chargers jumped out to a 21-0 lead on touchdown runs by David Leon, Brandon Miguel and Eric Lopez. Foothill stormed back and closed its deficit to 31-24 on a touchdown pass from JD Curran to Roman Pistone late in the fourth quarter, but Dos Pueblos recovered the ensuing onside kick to hold on.