Santa Barbara High’s football team will capture viewers across the Southland when the Dons host Pacifica of Oxnard on Friday, September 20, at Scott O’Leary Stadium on the campus of Dos Pueblos High.
The game will be included on the Fox Sports Prep Zone lineup for live stream. It’s the first time this season that a Santa Barbara County team will be among the Fox Sports weekly high school football matchups.
The Matchup: Pacifica is ranked No. 2 in CIF-SS Division 6 and has defeated its three opponents this season by an average score of 66-9, including a 63-13 victory over Dos Pueblos on August 30.
The Tritons have several players who are garnering interest from college programs. Linebacker Caleb McCullough has over 20 scholarship offers, which includes Pac-12 programs USC and Oregon among others.
On offense Pacifica boasts a plethora of speedy options at the skill positions led by running back Malik Sherrod, who has 12 scholarship offers despite his diminutive frame (5’8”, 165 pounds).
For Pacifica quarterback R.J. Maria there is no shortage of pass-catching options, including Savonne Farmer, who hauled in 31 receptions for 539 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
The Dons are ranked No. 3 in CIF-SS Division 8 and got off to a 3-0 start this season, but they struggled mightily in their most recent contest, a 31-6 loss to St. Bonaventure. The uneven performance came as a surprise to coach J.T. Stone.
“We played horrible, plain and simple. We did not play well,” Stone said. “[St. Bonaventure] is a reflection of us really, same type of players, but like I told my guys they were just a little bit more disciplined on that football team tonight.”
St. Bonaventure coach Tony Henney credited his team’s resounding victory to renewed focus after a 13-3 loss to Bishop Diego on August 30.
“We took it on the chin really bad a two weeks ago at Bishop Diego and really struggled offensively and since that time those guys have just done a great job of focusing in and doing the little things better,” Henney explained. “We still have a ways to go, but we’re really proud of them for the way they’ve responded the last two weeks.”
Coming off the disappointing loss, Santa Barbara will be seeking an improved performance against Pacifica in what figures to be its toughest test of the season.
“We were on our high horse a little bit and we fell off of it,” Stone said. “The biggest thing is learning from this loss.”
In order for the Dons to remain competitive against Pacifica they’ll have to finish off drives with touchdowns and rediscover the passing attack that was clicking in the first three games.
Santa Barbara quarterback Deacon Hill has put up solid numbers this season with 825 yards passing nine touchdowns and just two interceptions in four games, but a lot of that production came against weaker competition.
Can the Santa Barbara offensive line protect Hill long enough for him to deliver the ball? Will the Santa Barbara receivers be able to get create separation against elite athletes in the secondary?
Both questions will need to be answered affirmatively in order for the Dons to avoid a lopsided loss to Pacifica.
“Our whole goal this week is to get through this game as healthy as we can,” Stone admitted. “We’re going to go out there and put our best foot forward. I think we learned a lot from the St. Bonny game, but we have Pacifica and they’re the best team in the area right now.”
Kickoff Friday is at 7 p.m.
Gauchos Make a Statement: The No. 4-ranked UCSB men’s water polo team punctuated a historic start to the season Sunday with 13-9 victory over No. 1 ranked USC on the second day of the Inland Empire Classic.
It was the first time the Gauchos have defeated USC since 1990. They followed up the historic victory with a 15-4 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to improve to 9-0 on the season, which tied the school record for consecutive victories to start a season. They have defeated three other ranked teams: No. 5 California, No. 7 Long Beach State, and No. 8 Pepperdine, which comes to UCSB on Thursday for a 5 p.m. rematch.
“That’s the thing with sports, you never know what’s going to happen that’s why you play the game,” said UCSB coach Wolf Wigo. “You always got to have the attitude that you can win.”
Cardinals Welcome Chicago Hope Academy: A friendship between Bishop Diego special teams coach Mick Luckhurst and Chicago Hope Academy founder Bob Muzikowski opened the door for the rare out-of-state matchup.
The visiting Eagles will stay at hotels on Wednesday and Thursday before being hosted by Bishop Diego families for the remainder of their trip. The experience between the two programs will extend well beyond the football field.
“We’re grateful and blessed that they’re coming out,” said Bishop Diego Athletic Director Mike Cano. “A lot of these kids have never been on a plane and have never seen a beach.”
The game is set for Friday at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium beginning at 7:30 p.m.