SBART Luncheon Back At Harry’s

Coaches look ahead to challenging seasons. The Ranchero Room at Harry’s was awoken from its summer slumber Monday for the school year’s first Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon. Some of the football teams haven’t even played yet, so a lot of the talk was devoted to discussing schedules.There are some tough ones out there.

Tim Vom Steeg’s UCSB men’s soccer team is 3-0, and has three more matches to go before the fun really starts: back-to-back-to-back games against teams that are former NCAA champions.It kicks off with defending national-champion Wake Forest at Harder Stadium on September 21st, followed by UCLA and Indiana. ”I guarantee Wake Forest will come into that game undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country,” said Vom Steeg.

The Gauchos, of course, have a national title of their own, and are currently ranked sixth in the country. Senior captain Alfonso Motagalvan was introduced by his coach, as was an ultra-young but seasoned and skilled player in 17-year-old Bryan Dominguez. David Walker won Athlete of the Week for scoring the only goal in a nationally televised win over Kentucky.

Bishop Diego’s football team has been bumped into the Tri-Valley League with the likes of Oaks Christian, so a tough preseason schedule was chosen by coach Tom Crawford to prepare his team for the likes of Oaks Christian and Oak Park.

The Cardinals started off by visiting a much bigger Arroyo Grande team on Friday, and kept it close in a 21-14 loss that proved to Crawford that his team is capable of hanging with the bigger schools. Art Gonzalez scored late in the game on an acrobatic catch in the end zone, and running back RJ Escamilla ran hard all night.

“He’s carrying on the tradition of tough running backs at Bishop in the same mold as Jacob Sandoval and Aaron Skinner,” said Crawford.

SBCC football coach Craig Moropoulos’ schedule started with a 14-10 loss to Moorpark that came down to the wire. Moropoulos said there was no such thing as a moral victory, but that he was proud of his inexperienced team, particularly the defense.

Last year, the Vaqueros fielded three local players. This year, that number is up to 16.

“That’s not enough. We need to get more,” said Moropoulos.

Two non-local players that have already showed their stuff are Ravonte Wilkerson of Los Angeles and Nick Vought of Par City, UT. Wilkerson returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown on Saturday, and Vought had 10 tackles at the safety position.

The schedule gets really tough this weekend as the Vaqueros travel to play powerhouse College of the Canyons.

”SBCC is going to go out there and get after ‘em,” said Moropoulos.

After taking over coaching duties for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Westmont, Dave Wolf’s schedule has him a bit out of sorts.

”There were times I wasn’t sure what day it was, what state I was in or what gender I was coaching. I just re-learned the names of my five children… But I’m actually having a great time,” he said.

The Warrior women are 1-1-1 and ranked No. 13 in the nation. Wolf is being helped by new assistant Kristi Kiely, a 3-time team MVP at Westmont who won three national championships as a Warrior.

Wolf’s men’s team is 2-2 after playing three ranked teams in their first four games. Wolf said the team was deep and capable of playing 20 different players.

Carpinteria High football coach Steve Morello spoke of the Warriors’ season-opening win against Santa Ynez Friday.

“It was hot, and with only 24 guys suited up it was tough for them,” he said.

But the Warriors fought through the heat and pulled off a 7-0 win thanks to quarterback RJ Rosborough’s 1-yard touchdown plunge.

Linemen Garrett Gonzales and Jesus Cardona were present to receive recognition for their work in the trenches.

Carpinteria hosts Morro Bay on Friday.

Santa Barbara, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos each open their gridiron campaigns on Friday. Santa Barbara hosts Oxnard, San Marcos hosts Rio Mesa and DP travels to San Luis Obispo.

Dons coach Will Gonzales brought along a pair of straight-A students in all-league tight end Bryson Lloyd and Sam Lindberg, back from a one-year hiatus due to a medical issue.

The Yellowjackets swarm into Peabody Stadium and will give Santa Barbara a tough challenge.

“Oxnard seems to reload every year. Their linemen seem to grow on trees over there,” said Gonzales.

The Royals are coming off of a winless year, but hope to get things off to a different start against Rio Mesa.

Coach Dare Holdren said that this year is all about having fun and winning ball games, and linebackers Andrew Lopez Aguirre and Adrian Stimpson will be a big part of it if the Royals can turn things around.

“It’s fantastic that in this world I get paid to coach football… Not much, mind you,” joked Holdren.

DP coach Jeff Uyesaka said his Chargers will be underdogs in the Channel League this year, but there are a few solid returners and a few players ready to step up and surprise everyone.

Quarterback Jack Johnson takes over under center this season, and Mikey Mendez does a little bit of everything as a defensive end, tight end and receiver.

His coach also said he’s “the nicest kid around.”

Uyesaka said it would be a long haul up to SLO on Friday, but Santa Barbara High water polo coach Mark Walsh took his team on a much longer haul this summer.

The Dons traveled to Hungary and Croatia to play water polo in the water polo-crazed countries. Santa Barbara has 11 seniors on this year’s team and is ranked sixth in Division 1. National junior squad member Ian Gamble and goalie Hunter Ploch were both at the luncheon and are both on Stanford’s short list of possible recruits.

UCSB water polo coach Wolf Wigo was in Beijing commentating on the Olympic water polo teams for NBC. Back at Campus Pool, the Gaucho men have graduated two top players in Rick Wright and Ross Sinclair. But while the Gauchos may be in for a “down year,” Wigo said they are still capable of beating any team in the nation.

The UCSB women’s soccer team had a down year last season, but are back at full strength this year with a host of young talent. Coach Paul Stumpf estimated that nine or 10 of his players were out with injuries at this time last season, and now (knock on wood) they are all healthy.

Rachael Ritchey, Sami Svrcek and Michelle Russell were at Harry’s. Their teammate, Jacqui Simon, earned Athlete of the Week honors for scoring two goals, including the game-winner with 1:16 remaining, against Pepperdine.

SBCC sports information’s Dave Loveton spoke about both the Vaquero men’s and women’s soccer teams. Mark Knight, who led the state in goals last year with 28, is back for the men, while Danna Wahlund scored four times in a 10-0 win last week.

Loveton also discussed the 2007 state runner-up SBCC women’s golf team, which is led by local sisters Asaka and Sumika Sim.

Before the local prep and college coaches took to the podium, Santa Barbara Foresters coach and a special friend took a turn. The friend was the National Baseball Congress World Series trophy, which the Foresters won in Wichita just a few weeks ago. Pintard said that in his 15 years with the team, this was the most rewarding season ever due to the fact that the Foresters were 11-12 at one point. He said the second-half surge was due to simply wanting to win more than the other teams, an explanation which got a hearty nod from many other coaches in the crowd.

The next luncheon is, of course, on the schedule for Monday.