The high school football season is heating up, as league play is just around the corner for the majority of the CIF Southern Section. Parity reigns throughout Santa Barbara County, as the teams have succeeded in beating up on each other during nonleague play thus far.
The Channel League, which consists of Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, and Cabrillo, has taken its fair share of lumps this season but also earned some impressive victories.
Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos defeated their former Channel League rivals Ventura and Buena. After the Dons racked up their third victory, 54-3 over Channel Islands, they were ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 7, but the following week they fell back to earth with a 28-13 loss to St. Bonaventure in Ventura. A 34-13 defeat in Oxnard last weekend to Pacifica, the No. 4–ranked team in Division 6, dropped Santa Barbara’s record to 3-2.
The ups and downs of the Channel League teams have not been limited to the Dons. After opening the season with a 31-24 victory over Foothill of Santa Ana, the Dos Pueblos Chargers were riding high until they ran into the buzz saw that is Pacifica. “We’ve just got to continue to get better,” said Dos Pueblos coach Doug Caines on the field after the 49-0 Pacifica loss. “None of our goals were based on beating Pacifica in the nonleague.”
The Chargers have since regrouped and now stand at 3-1 going into their final nonleague matchup with Righetti on Friday, with a chance to enter Channel League play with a single loss.
San Marcos is much improved this season, but the Royals didn’t have any victories to hang their hat on, as a series of close losses resulted in a 0-4 start to the season. Finally, a 21-0 victory over Channel Islands last Friday broke the Royals’ 12-game losing streak dating back to last season. It was also the first shutout for San Marcos since 2011.
Ben Partee has made major strides at the quarterback position in his junior season. His rapport with receiver Josh Brown and the running of senior Tommy Schaeffer have given the Royals the offensive punch to be competitive week in and week out.
San Marcos and Santa Barbara both have a bye week before their annual “Big Game” rivalry at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium on Friday, September 28. The Royals have not defeated the Dons since 2014.
Lompoc came into the season as the clear favorite in the Channel League after two consecutive undefeated regular seasons. The Braves may still be the favorite, as they captured the most impressive nonleague victory, a 36-10 win over Bishop Diego on August 31, but losses to St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs and Arroyo Grande have diminished Lompoc’s air of invincibility.
Cabrillo of Lompoc did not win any games in nonleague play and will face an uphill battle in its Channel League opener against Dos Pueblos on September 28 after its bye week.
For Bishop Diego, one more test remains before Camino League play begins. The Cardinals will travel to San Juan Capistrano to take on St. Margaret’s in a matchup of two remarkably similar programs. St. Margaret’s is ranked No. 3 in the most recent CIF-SS Division 6 poll and would represent a signature win for the Cardinals heading into their daunting league schedule.
Bishop Diego opens up Camino League play at home against Grace Brethren, the only team to defeat the Cardinals in their state championship run last season, on September 29.
The Camino League is made up of Bishop Diego, Grace Brethren, Camarillo, Moorpark, and Thousand Oaks. Of those teams, unbeaten Camarillo and Grace Brethren are ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in Division 4, respectively, and Moorpark is ranked No. 5 in Division 3. Bishop Diego is unranked in Division 4.
The inexperienced Cardinals have clearly improved, as evidenced by back-to-back victories over Nipomo and Golden Valley, but they will be severely challenged by three of the top teams in the Southern Section within their own league.
A big part of Bishop Diego’s improved play of late is the return of Adrian Soracco to the lineup. He was held out due to injury for the first two games of the season but has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in each of three games he has played in this season.
Carpinteria High opened Citrus Coast League play with a hard-fought 27-14 victory over Fillmore, improving its overall record to 4-1. The Warriors are ranked No. 2 in Division 12 but have a series of extremely competitive games on their upcoming slate, including matchups with unbeaten Santa Paula (Sept. 28), 4-1 Malibu (Oct. 5), and 3-2 Nordhoff (Oct. 26).
The passing combination of quarterback Vance Keiser and wide receiver Brady Sturdivan has resulted in five touchdowns over the past two weeks. Against Fillmore, Sturdivan hauled in six catches for 196 yards and added a crucial fourth-quarter interception.
GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL: San Marcos took a major step toward the Channel League title with a 25-20, 25-19, 24-26, 25-18 victory over Dos Pueblos on Thursday. The victory improved San Marcos to 3-0 in league play.
The Royals have received strong play of late from middle blocker Brynn Sofro, whose versatility on the court has made her indispensable.
“Brynn had a great night against Dos Pueblos. She blocked well and attacked well,” said coach Tina Brown. “She plays all of our rotations, so the fact that she is a middle blocker that can play six rotations is pretty shocking.”
San Marcos followed up its victory over Dos Pueblos with a second-place finish in the Royal tournament. The Royals fell just short of the tournament title, with a 25-22 loss to Granada Hills Charter in the final.
Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos are tied for second place in the Channel League at 2-1, one game back of San Marcos. They will face off against each other to conclude the first round of league play on September 20.