It was a banner school year for high school sports on the South Coast. The area celebrated three CIF-Southern Section champions and one state championship team.
One team, Dos Pueblos girls water polo, enjoyed a perfect 31-0 season in wrapping up its third straight Division 1 title. Santa Barbara’s boys soccer team went 31-1-1 en route to the Division 2 crown. And the DP girls volleyball team posted a 32-3 record on the way to the 1-A title.
Santa Barbara’s boys golf team capped the year by winning the school’s first state championship.
In the 2009-10 school year, there was a playoff representative from a South Coast school in every sport except one: football. The Friday night lights were switched off in early November.
That was the low point of the athletic year. For the first time in memory, not one South Coast school that plays 11-man football — Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, Carpinteria and Bishop Diego — made the postseason.
Why did this happen and what are the coaches of these programs doing to turn things around?
Presidiosports.com contacted each football coach to find some answers.
Our first coach in this series of stories is Jaime Melgoza of Santa Barbara. Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Bishop Diego and Carpinteria will follow in the coming days.
Melgoza, who was hired five months before the beginning of last season, knows all about playing in the CIF playoffs for the Dons. He was a member of the Randall Cunningham-led 1980 Golden Tornado (Santa Barbara’s playoff nickname) that reached the CIF final and lost to Long Beach Poly.
After spending several years as a JV coach and varsity assistant, Melgoza accepted the head varsity job in April 2009. His first year was a rough one as the team went 0-10.
Melgoza talked about the year and the program’s future in the following Q&A.
PS: What do you think led to the Dons’ collapse last season?
MELGOZA: We were young and we need more players to create competition for positions. We have to try to get club players from other sports. We need the athletic director and principal to push on a better facility — track, field, press box, etc.
PS: What are you doing to make sure 0-10 doesn’t happen again?
MELGOZA: Creating a program with discipline and committed players.
PS: Are you conducting workouts right now?
MELGOZA: 7 on 7 passing league. Fall practice will start on August 9
PS: How many guys do you have out for varsity football?
PS: Has it been a problem getting guys to come out for football? Can that pride for Dons football be resurrected?
MELGOZA: Club sports make it tough because no coach wants to lose players, so they have them all year around. We lose a lot of players to that. Pride? The Dons will always have pride.
PS: Tell us about the group of guys coming out for this year’s team.
MELGOZA: We’re young but we have a couple of good linemen that are seniors, Jose Carrera and Taylor Dawson, and a good junior running back in Bradford Jellison. Senior DB Arron Richardson and senior linebacker Beto Lopez also are good players.
PS: Have you settled on a starting quarterback yet?
MELGOZA: Shawn Ramos, a 10th grader, is the man for right now. He’s young but played last year as a freshman with the JV program.
PS: Are you taking part in any passing leagues this summer?
MELGOZA: Yes, we are up north and down south all summer long. We are trying to play as many games possible, trying to get the young players ready.
PS: We didn’t have any South Coast teams make the playoffs last year. Why do you think that happened? Do you feel football is on the rebound here?
MELGOZA: We have a lot of high schools to pick from around Santa Barbara. You need to create a program they believe in and hope (the kids) all want to play for your high school. I believe we have a lot of great players and talent around here.