Coming off a 4-6 season, the SBCC football team will unleash a talented roster of key returners and eager newcomers in the hopes of improving on that win total in 2018.
The SBCC lineup will have a distinctly Santa Barbara flavor this season as 18 players hail from high schools within the county limits.
“The guys we have coming back fortunately for us are in the offensive line and at the quarterback position and we fill very good about that,” said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. “Defensively we’ve got a couple guys returning, including Lucas Olgiati a returning starter and we’ve got some guys that are local.”
The Vaqueros are led by returning starter Gerald Hickson at quarterback, who passed for 1,058 yards and eight touchdowns least season. Hickson has taken on a leadership role this season and embraced the cerebral component of the quarterback position.
“Physically I’ve progressed just being in the weight room here at (SBCC) and mentally just being in the meetings with coach and knowing the offense,” Hickson said. “I’m very confident in our team and our line. I’m looking forward to the season.”
The offensive line will be a source of strength for the Vaqueros as they return center Jake Tourtilotte, a Cabrillo High product, and tackle Taylor Ludwig.
Among the newcomers is 6’ 4” 300-pound Freshman Nathan Beveridge, A Dos Pueblos High product, who helped lead the Chargers to the CIF-SS Division 10 championship game last season. Another local product is 6’ 4” 295-pound Ramon Lazarit out of Santa Ynez High.
On defense the Vaqueros return four starters, including safeties Lucas Olgiati and Nakota Shepard-Creer, defensive lineman Daniel Ekstrum (Lompoc High) and linebacker Andreas Buri of Switzerland.
“We’re playing with speed and being more bullies on defense,” Olgiati said. “We have new coaches that came in so our defense has changed a little bit.”
At the offensive skill positions Will Bayone, a transfer from The University of Akron, will likely carry the load at running back. At receiver redshirt freshman Nick Foster has been a star during camp and will look to carry that confidence into the season.
The Vaqueros will open their season at Compton with kickoff scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. The first home game is the following Saturday, Sept. 8 against San Bernardino.