Every once in a while, like a golden full moon rising over the harbor on a clear Friday night, something spectacular happens in a high school football game. It was under just such a moon that Bishop Diego running back John Harris electrified a La Playa Stadium crowd by streaking 91 yards for a touchdown.
Harris, a 6′2″, 205-pound junior, is a runner of power and finesse. Taking a deep handoff or a pitchout, he surveys the wreckage along the line before picking a path through it. He runs with a forward lean, and defenders almost never stop him cold. A typical Harris run finishes with a pile of players being driven several yards beyond the point they first hit him.
When Harris finds open space, it’s another story. In the second quarter of the Cardinals’ game against the St. Joseph Knights last Friday night, Harris broke loose on a carry from Bishop’s nine-yard line. He made a cut that left a defensive back gasping for air and took off down the left sideline. Another St. Joseph defender tried to run him down from behind, but the unyielding Harris won the frantic race to the end zone.
It was the second big play of the night for Bishop Diego, as Isaiah Veal sped 88 yards to score on a kickoff return in the first quarter. But those haymakers were not enough for the Cardinals to win the showdown against their small-school counterparts from Santa Maria. St. Joseph handed them just their second defeat in their last 25 regular-season games, 21-17.
Needing a first down to keep a potential game-winning drive alive in the final quarter, Bishop called Harris’s number on a pass pattern. He was open on the right sideline, but the instant the pass reached his hands, Knights cornerback Mason Biely drilled him, and the ball slipped away.
“He got me,” Harris said. “It was a good hit.”
Biely, also a junior, said, “It was pure joy knowing I helped my team. I knew they’d take a big shot at [Harris]. He’s a good player. He runs real hard and never gives up.”
Expect both the Cardinals (3-1) and the Knights (2-2) to be contenders come November in the CIF Division 5 play-offs.
“Both teams are super physical,” Bishop lineman Michael Agnoli said. “We’re resilient. We’ll bounce back.”
Bishop Diego returns to La Playa on Saturday night to face another quality opponent, Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach. The visiting team features junior running back and defensive end Demitri Washington, who’s hard to miss at 6′5″ and 235 pounds.
HOME OF THE BRAVES: Whenever a North County team like St. Joseph takes on a Santa Barbara school, it seems to play with extra effort. That is especially true of Lompoc High. The Braves ran over San Marcos by a 46-0 score and then upped the ante against Santa Barbara last weekend, romping to a 64-0 victory over the Dons.
A Lompoc fan tweeted, “Do you think we're still the armpit now?”
He was referring to a remark by Santa Barbara congressional candidate Salud Carbajal that set off a political firestorm and may have been bulletin-board material for the Braves.
“You don’t want to light a fire under the best football team in the 805,” Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone said. The Braves do not need any outside help. Among their players is junior running back Toa Taua, who is touted to be as fine a prospect as former Lompoc great Napoleon Kaufman.
PREP ROUNDUP: If there is such a thing as a “funk zone” for prep football, Santa Barbara’s Peabody Stadium would qualify. It was supposed to be undergoing a renovation this season, but the project has been put on hold until early next year. The good news is that the Dons (1-3) will be able to play their three home games on familiar grounds. Their home opener is this Friday, September 23, against Royal, and they’ll host San Marcos on October 7 in the Channel League opener.
Dos Pueblos (3-1), led by the passing of quarterback Kellen Roberts and a stout defense, rolled to its third straight win last weekend and garnered a No. 3 ranking in CIF Division 10. The Chargers will host San Luis Obispo on Friday night and honor their 2001 team that faced S.L.O.’s Tigers in a memorable CIF championship game.
San Marcos (0-4) showed some progress by taking a halftime lead over Hueneme and will seek its first win under coach Jason Fowle on Friday at Channel Islands.
Carpinteria (1-2) hit the win column when Brian Garcia nailed a 30-yard field goal to defeat Nordhoff, 10-7. The Warriors continue a home stand against Oak Park on Friday, with a visit from Bishop Diego looming September 30.
COLLEGE SPIRIT: La Playa Stadium is known for its scenery, and last Saturday a common sight was running back Perry Martin of the SBCC Vaqueros scoring touchdowns. The freshman tied a school record by crossing the goal line four times in a 51-0 rout of L.A. Southwest. … So far this season, nobody has spiked a ball with the consistency of the women’s volleyball teams at Westmont College (15-0 through last week) and SBCC (9-1).
CLOCK MISMANAGEMENT: Referee Miguel Chicas circumvented college soccer rules last Saturday when he ordered the scoreboard clock to stop in the final seconds, enabling No. 7–ranked UCLA to score the game-tying goal on a stunning free kick and eventually defeat UCSB in overtime, 2-1. There would have been no controversy over the stoppage if the NCAA joined the rest of the soccer world and (1) let the referee keep the official time on the field and (2) excluded overtime in regular-season matches. The game might have ended in a 1-1 tie, but the Gauchos would not have had to play the overtime in an exhausted and disenchanted condition. They’ll get another crack at the Pac-12 when Cal visits Saturday night.
GAME OF THE WEEK
9/23: College Women’s Volleyball: Hawai‘i at UCSB A marquee matchup opens the Big West season. UCSB (9-4) has notched the most nonconference wins, but No. 14–ranked Hawai‘i (7-4) comes in as the defending champion (16-0 in the Big West last year). Dave Shoji, a UCSB graduate, is in his 42nd season as coach of the Rainbow Wahine. In Nicole Lantagne Welch’s first three years as coach of the Gauchos, they have gone 1-5 against Hawai‘i. UCSB’s Lindsey Ruddins, a 6′2″ outside hitter from Laguna Niguel, has won the Big West Freshman of the Week award three times in the past month. Fans can greet her and other Gaucho women after Friday’s match in a “Meet the Team” event. 7pm. The Thunderdome, UCSB. $5-$8. Call 893-UCSB (8272) or visit ucsbgauchos.com.
S.B. ATHLETIC ROUND TABLE ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Marcellous Gossett, Dos Pueblos football
Camarillo netted a meager 21 rushing yards against the Chargers, as Gossett, a senior defensive end, recorded nine tackles and four sacks. Dos Pueblos defeated the Scorpions, 23-14.
Kaylene Ureno, SBCC volleyball
The freshman from Turlock did it all in the Vaqueros’ four-set win over Grossmont, the state’s No. 2–ranked team. She had 14 kills, 13 digs, and six blocks.