Somebody must have spiked the Super Bowl with kryptonite. In an age of high-powered offenses, the Patriots and Rams produced the lowest-scoring NFL championship since 1949 (in the pre-Super Bowl era), when the Philadelphia Eagles blanked the Rams, 14-0.
“There’s a lot of bummed-out people,” said Kiki Garibay of the mood at his party in Carpinteria after New England’s 13-3 victory. The Rams fans were disappointed by the team’s performance and upset about an untimely holding penalty when L.A.’s Todd Gurley ran for an apparent first down in Patriots territory with the score tied 3-3 in the final quarter.
“It was a phantom call,” Garibay said, and CBS commentator Tony Romo agreed when the replay showed the alleged offender, center John Sullivan, was doing nothing out of the ordinary in the scuffling at the line of scrimmage.
L.A. partisans will get no sympathy from their New Orleans counterparts. The Santa Barbara chapter of “Who Dat Nation” took out an ad in the Independent declaring, “The Saints Were Robbed” by a notorious non-call that likely kept them out of the Super Bowl.
As it turned out, Sunday’s game might have benefited from having Drew Brees and the Saints challenging Tom Brady and the Patriots. L.A.’s third-year quarterback Jared Goff appeared not ready for primetime. Brady made the money play of the game, a 29-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski that set up the game’s only touchdown.
“I had a sleepless night” after the game, Garibay said, but on Monday, he was optimistic about the future of the youthful Rams. “They got a taste of it,” he said. “They’ll know how to handle it next time.”
PLAYOFF TIME: After exchanging 3-0 victories over each other, the boys’ soccer teams of Santa Barbara High and San Marcos will be mutually supportive when they open the CIF Southern Section playoffs on Thursday, February 7, at SMHS’s Warkentin Stadium. The Dons, defending Division 1 champions, will face Palos Verdes at 3 p.m., and the Royals will take on the Royal Highlanders in a Division 2 match at 5 p.m.
The Dons were motivated to atone for their one-sided defeat to San Marcos earlier in the season, and they erased the differential last Thursday when Juan Carlos Torres scored a pair of second-half goals, the latter on a brilliant free kick. The junior striker has scored 21 goals this year. “Special kids show up at special moments,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said. The Dons celebrated their fourth consecutive Channel League championship, and the Royals showed they are capable of doing damage in their playoff division.
The Bishop Diego Cardinals, winners of the Frontier League title — their first in two decades — play a home game in Division 7. Other boys’ teams in the soccer playoffs include Carpinteria, Laguna Blanca, and Cate.
Dos Pueblos won the Channel League girls’ soccer championship and opened the playoffs Wednesday against Flintridge Sacred Heart. Third-place Santa Barbara went into the wild-card round.
In basketball, Santa Barbara High’s championship teams will host first-round action (see Game of the Week) on Thursday and Friday. The San Marcos boys, runners-up to the Dons, were elevated to Division 1 by virtue of their 2A title last season, and they will open the playoffs on the road against Windward in Los Angeles. Dos Pueblos made the cut in the 3AA Division and will travel to Ventura on Friday.
It will be hard for the girls’ water polo teams of San Marcos and Dos Pueblos to surpass their success of 2018 — the Royals defeated the Chargers, 4-3, in a dramatic Division 1 final — but they are among the elite teams again. In playoff openers Thursday evening, the league champion Chargers host Corona Del Mar, and the Royals travel to Santa Ana Foothill. Santa Barbara had a Division 2 opener at Los Osos on Wednesday, while Carpinteria, co-champion of the Citrus League, was slated to host a wild-card team in Division 7.
STRONG WOMEN: Kami Craig, whose power in the pool helped the U.S. women’s water polo team win a silver medal and two golds in the Olympic Games, will share the podium with Caroline Burckle, a bronze medalist in Olympic swimming, at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s annual National Girls & Women in Sports Luncheon on Monday, February 11.
Radio personality Catherine Remak will moderate a panel discussion with the two retired Olympians, who participate in a mentorship program known as RISE Athletes.
Several hundred female athletes from area schools will attend the luncheon, and the public is invited ($30 adult, $15 child). It will take place at 11:30 a.m. at Earl Warren Showground’s Warren Hall. Reservations: sbart.org.
GAUCHOS REBOUND: After their overtime defeat to visiting UC Irvine last Thursday, I figured the UCSB men’s basketball team would be at risk of another loss at Hawai‘i 48 hours later. Surprisingly, the Gauchos rolled to a 75-54 victory, the Rainbow Warriors’ worst home defeat as a member of the Big West Conference. Max Heidegger’s return to form gave UCSB a big boost. The junior guard started hitting his threes and scored 20 points, as did freshman phenom Amadou Sow, who added 11 rebounds for the second double-double of his young career.
It’s crowded at the top of the Big West. UCSB will try to keep pace with Irvine and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, when UC Davis visits the Thunderdome for a 9 p.m. ESPNU game.
Over in the Pac-12 Conference, Washington is on top by three games with a 9-0 record. That’s a Huskies team that the Gauchos were tied with in Seattle with a minute to play in December.