Summer Status Update: Santa Barbara Dons Football

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.

Second-year head coach Jaime Melgoza and his staff are busy preparing the Dons for the fall season.

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? 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.

Senior defensive back Aaron Richardson will play a leading role in the Dons' defensive unit.

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.

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  1. First off, the Dons were not 0-10. St. Bonny was forced to give up its Channel League Championship last year and lost every Channel League game for using an ineligible player. The Dons were 1-9.

    Second – Football will not survive in this area unless it becomes a priority in this area. But chances of that are very little because the priority in this area is Volleyball, Water sports, and soccer.

  2. You're right about the forfeit win.

  3. Trojan72 says:

    Volleyball, water sports, soccer…they all have been a priority historically in this area. Not a valid excuse. There is no reason any one, if not all of the local schools, to field a competitive and succesfull program. Santa Barbara winless, come on. Dos Pueblos has over 2000 kids… they can't field a playoff caliber team?

  4. Dafbcoach says:

    Until the three SB area teams start fielding competitive lower level freshman and sophomore teams that can compete at a high level, their varsity teams will continue to struggle. Last year, there were few wins at the lower levels and the two Ventura schools feasted on our freshman and sophomore teams. It might be quite a while until the Varsity teams return to greatness.

  5. Sb Dave says:

    All the area High Schools need to support the Youth Football leagues in Santa Barbara thats Where it really Starts! When the kids have no place to play every Saturday its No wonder they dont get excited about playing at the High School Level! Theres Very little Support from the Schools here! It all comes down to $$ I thought it was supposed to be about the Kids!! Someday they will catch on until then Football will be what it is today

  6. AndreThe Giant says:

    The bottom line is that Santa Barbara schools don’t produce the football teams like they used is due to the fact that the kids growing up here like playing volleyball, soccer, h20 polo, and tennis before football. The was the complete opposite 10-15 years ago. Down in Ventura County it seems as if the first choice is football with nothing being a close second. Just look at the scores between the SB schools in football vs Ventura County and then look at the scores between the two in volleyball, soccer, h20 polo, and tennis, it’s night and day. And finally, the fact that coaches don’t like sharing players in high school with other sports as one local coach mentioned is a major travesty due to the facts that players should use there talents in other sports.

  7. the sbyfl is one of the problems, they play in a water down league and it does not get the kids ready for HS football. Ive coached in booth. SB kids need to play kids from VTA to get them ready for channel league, not teams like Nipomo and santa ynez every year

  8. How funny is that! SBYFL is the problem!! come on Really! how is it that 8 year olds are playing in a watered down league? arent kids playing YFL just learning football at this age or compete for CIF Title??? I think you have Valid points and maybe we can agree But it must start from the High School Down being more involved in developing thier future players!

  9. The Dons will be trying to recover after losing all ten games last year (on the field). Santa Barbara will be seeking it’s first Channel League title since 2002. Overall since 1960, the have won 19 league titles(2001,1995,1993,1989,1988,1985,1982,1981,1980,1977,1970,1968,1967,1966,1964,1963,1962,1961 &1960.) They have also won 11 city titles with last one coming in 2008. The Dons will also be trying to win a playoff game for the frist time since their win over Canyon-Country in the 1989 semi-finals.

  10. You have to promote the younger players faster.The varsity experience cannot be limited to 2 years.Players drift to other sports to never return.

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