Prep Football Preview: “It All Starts Now”

CARPINTERIA WARRIORS

COACH: John Hazelton

SEASON OUTLOOK: Carpinteria is hoping its IQ will translate into Ws this season. “I don’t think there’s anyone on our offensive line whose GPA is under 3.7,” said coach John Hazelton. After a 4-6 campaign in 2007, the Warriors have a quick-footed and quick-minded roster to go with a star quarterback in junior RJ Rosborough, who averaged 170 passing yards and 30 rushing yards per game as a sophomore. He threw 15 touchdown passes and ran for seven more. The Warriors finished at 4-6 and 2-3 in the Tri-Valley League. Hazelton says that he has 10 viable linemen this season, meaning the battle in the trenches will be a key to the team’s improvement. Garrett Gonzalez (6-2, 260) returns and is described by his coach as “an impeccable shotgun center.” He’s flanked by returning starter Michael Ramirez, a 5-11, 230-pound bruiser who squats 400 pounds in the weight room. John Bustillos, a 225-pounder who was the captain of the JV squad last season, brings his quickness and 4.0 GPA to the line party. Similarly speedy is Graham Craddock, a tennis player who checks in at 6-1, 200 and blazes across 40 yards in about 4.9 seconds. Not bad for a lineman. “Their academic success translates into the world of athletics. Most of them are two-sport athletes and really catch on quick to things, so it’s allowed us to execute and broaden our scope in the early-going,” said Hazelton. The Warriors have also stressed body composition in offseason training, measuring body fat weekly. It’s led to leaner bodies to help emphasize strength and speed. Gone are the days of “bigger is better” for the storied program. The team’s captains will all line up in a row, with Gonzales and Rosborough being elected as well as running back Ivan Millhollin. The Tri-Valley League will be tough, as it always seems to be, especially with the dreaded Oaks Christian Lions (ranked 85th in the nation by MaxPreps.com) in the mix. Oaks Christian has been a factory for Division-1 recruits and has won five consecutive CIF Southern Section Championships and six overall since the school opened in 200. Oak Park, however, has also been very strong in recent years, having beaten the Lions 25-20 in 2007. Even with such daunting league-foes, confidence is not in short supply for the Warriors, according to Hazelton. “I think Carpinteria is a place that always sets goals high… There’s definitely a different beat to our drum this year and there’s a real chemistry,” he said.

SANTA BARBARA DONS

COACH: Will Gonzales

SEASON OUTLOOK: “7-4 is not good enough.” That’s been the mantra for the Santa Barbara Dons ever since they starter their offseason workouts all the way back in January. The 2007 campaign was a good one for Will Gonzales’ team. The Dons rebounded from a one-win season in 2006 to win their first city championship since 1995 and make the playoffs, where they fell to a strong Newbury Park squad in a fog-filled pit in the first round. It was the first time since 2001 that Santa Barbara had assumed it’s postseason identity, The Golden Tornado. Sharpshooting quarterback John Uribe returns for his senior season, and has two of his favorite targets coming back as well. All-everything tight end Bryson Lloyd is a Division-1 talent who caught eight touchdown passes last year, and hoops-star Roberto Nelson, who recently committed to play basketball for Oregon State, returns as a lethal deep threat. Nelson had seven touchdown receptions last season and had a team-high clip of 62 yards per contest. Uribe’s numbers were stellar. He tossed 22 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions and amassed 2,148 passing yards, over 200 per game. Coach Gonzales pointed out that Uribe tossed over 100 touchdown passes in summer passing league for the second year in a row. Defensively, All-Channel League First Team members Ian Echternacht and Lenny Vargas. Echternacht led the team with 12 tackles per game last season and the 230-pound Vargas was a leader in the trenches. The running game will be platooned with the likes of RJ Bisquera, Kyle Leonard and Freddy Maldonado, who was with Carpinteria last season. Uribe, Lloyd and Echternacht have been selected as captains along with lineman Memo Gutierrez. “We’re going to be inexperienced at some spots, but this is definitely the quickest group I’ve ever had and we return most of our offensive and defensive line,” said Gonzales.

SAN MARCOS ROYALS

COACH: Dare Holdren.

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Royals hope to shake off last year’s winless campaign with a wave of new talent from the JV squad and a more healthy season for key players. “Last year it was kind of a combo of key injuries. We felt like we had a lot of bad breaks and it seemed like nothing went right. I think the kids are ready for a fresh start,” said coach Dare Holdren. Holdren’s staff features a pair of family connections with Holdren’s father, Ed, on board as well as the duo of Norm and father Dennis Kittle. The elder Kittle has coached many-a-season for the Royals, as has Ed Holdren. Norm was one year ahead of Dare during their playing days as Royals. Junior James Crook takes over at quarterback this season and, Holdren said he is an intelligent and athletic football player who should be ready to handle the offense. Jordan Kuykendall played second fiddle to star running back Andy Segal last year, but will be relied upon to have a big season in the backfield. The Royals had only one passing touchdown last season, but the good news is that the recipient of that pass, Max Cavalier, is back as a primary target. San Marcos has tweaked its defense, and coach Holdren said that it should make an impact. “I’m looking forward to that. People that see us play on a weekly basis will see the difference,” he said. The defensive backs return this season, including Kirk Renga and Kuykendall. Holdren says other players to watch will be returning Channel League second-teamer Adrian Stonson, Benny Kirkwood, Manny Hernandez and Sean Harvey. After last season, the Royals are looking for breakout years from a handful of players. The right attitude is already in place, and Holdren’s refreshing perspective on the game is a big reason for it. “Our first goal is to have fun, and the second is to win ballgames… I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we can win,” he said. And Holdren never takes his job for granted. “High school football is the greatest sport in the world, and we get to go out there and play it every day.”

BISHOP DIEGO CARDINALS

COACH: Tom Crawford

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Cardinals had an unforgettable season last year, beating schools ten times bigger en route to a narrow loss to Santa Clara in the CIF title game. Gone are quarterback Christian Winnewisser, receiver Eli Orosco and tailback Aaron Skinner, but still around are five all-Frontier League selections. The Cardinals have 25 players on the roster and will be looking for some underclassmen to step up and play varsity. “We started two freshmen at one point last year, and we have some younger kids that are real good. We’re hoping to move them up to varsity about halfway through the season,” said defensive coordinator Ralph Molina. Anthony Martinez takes over at quarterback, and although he’s eight inches shorter than the 6-foot-4 Winnewisser, Molina said he throws just as well. Bishop Diego had some options when it came to this year’s schedule and chose to aim high. “There were a couple of Division 12 and 13 teams available, but now that we’ve moved up to the Tri-Valley League the only way to prepare is to play the big boys,” said Molina. Arroyo Grande ad St. Joseph in the first two weeks should definitely help in that preparation.

DOS PUEBLOS CHARGERS

COACH: Jeff Uyesaka

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Chargers return six solid starters from last season, which ended with an epic 35-32 loss to Santa Barbara with the city championship on the line.  “That was a tough way to end the season last year… What a great game. If you paid your five or seven bucks to get in you got your money’s worth,” said defensive line coach Tod Rowe at Thursday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table football preview meeting, held at the Endless Summer Bar-Café. For the first time in the program’s history, DP will play home games on their own field under the lights. “Our guys are just chomping at the bit. We can’t wait to get a game under our belt,” said Rowe. They’ll keep chomping until Friday night, when they travel north to play at San Luis Obispo.

 

LAGUNA BLANCA OWLS

COACH: Ray Robitaille

SEASON OUTLOOK: They’re athletic and quick, but they are small in size and few in numbers.
Fourteen players (maybe one over 200 pounds) return for Laguna Blanca’s 8-man program, and nine seniors are back with a bitter taste in their mouths after a 2-6 campaign in 2007.
Running back Mark Romanov is a football and lacrosse dynamo, and hoops standout Luther Tarver is “one of the fastest kids in the county,” according to Robitaille. Alex Harmer will be the blocking back and Connor Murphy will take over at quarterback. The Owls have 8-man powerhouse Faith Baptist on the schedule and also faces a new Condor League opponent in Ojai Valley School. With 14 players, Robitaille will not hold any full-contact practices in order to keep his guys healthy. “We’ve got a deep playbook with 40 some-odd plays, and these guys are smart enough to handle that,” said the coach.

CATE RAMS

COACH: Ben Soto

SEASON OUTLOOK: Coming off of a Condor League title and a CIF semifinal appearance, the Rams have more players (38) than they’ve ever had heading into this year’s campaign. Granted, 10 seniors, including standout quarterback Matt DeGroot and running back Will Meldman, have graduated, but a few blowouts last season allowed for younger Rams to step up. The 8-man Rams held their first-ever training camp in the offseason, and are about to get new fields and a new weight room. Rival Laguna Blanca is keeping pace with new facilities also on the way. The Rams host the Owls on their Parents Weekend this year. Locals Wyatt Geiger and Michael McMahon will be the team leaders, according to athletic director and offensive line coach Wade Ransom.

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