The talent train rolls back in at Harry’s

While the weekly Santa Barbara Round Table Luncheon didn’t get a F-16 fly-by like Dos Pueblos football did in its first true home game on Friday, there was plenty of firepower present in the Ranchero Room at Harry’s in the form of local girls volleyball programs.

Coach Roger Kuntz, of San Marcos, Dos Pueblos assistant Tina Brown, Santa Barbara head coach John Gannon and Carpinteria’s Katie Dolge all briefed the audience, which included athletes of the week Rachel Decker-Sadowski and Cody Clark, on their highly successful showings at pre-season tournaments taking place over the past two weeks.

The Dons traveled to San Jose over the weekend to defend their title won at last year’s Archbishop Mitty Tournament. Coach Gannon said that this year’s team came in a little under the radar because of graduating four seniors from last year’s championship lineup. Santa Barbara, represented at Harry’s by Eve Ettinger and Emily Rottman, impressed everyone, including scouts from elite NCAA programs, on its way back to the title match on Saturday.

The Dons swept No. 1 Marymount in the semifinals and met Archbishop Mitty in the final. While Santa Barbara was stopped in four games, Gannon expects the Dons to take over Division II’s top ranking when the next polls come out.

In the previous weekend’s ultra-competitive girls volleyball tournament, the Dave Mohs Orange County Championship, Dos Pueblos outlasted the Dons and made it to the championship match where the Chargers were finally beaten by Orange Lutheran in two games. Outside hitter Caitlin Racich was named last week’s female Round Table Athlete of the Week for her all-tournament performance.

Former Round Table President Dave Pintard was on hand to present this week’s top student-athletes.

Decker-Sadowski, who has been ensconced at the Dons’ No. 1 singles position since she was a freshman, has led Santa Barbara to a 5-0 record playing a schedule stacked with Southern California’s top programs. In last week’s showdown against Division II’s No. 1 team, Beverly Hills, Decker-Sadowski fought off severe leg cramps and a sore foot to go 3-0 in the victory.

The Dons’ top weapon is no stranger to playing with pain. Decker-Sadowski won the individual Channel League championship last season playing with an elbow injury that forced her to serve underhand.

San Marcos junior Clark earned male athlete of the week honors for his 3-touchdown performance in leading the Royals to a 27-9 victory over Hueneme. The running back accumulated 154 yards on the ground.

“He’s very quick. He’s got a ton of heart,” said coach Dare Holdren of his fleet-footed scoring threat. “The great thing is his teammates love the way he works and, therefore, cheered him on until the very end.”

Holdren also brought along senior safety Kirk Renga.

“It’s a good thing he’s small because if he was 50 pounds heavier I’d be fielding a bunch lawsuits from people who’s sons he had just flattened.”

Despite dropping a 34-23 decision to Grace Brethren, the Carpinteria Warriors, especially receiver-turned-quarterback Justin Alvarado, responded to a pre-game message from assistant coach Tom Morehouse about courage in the face of adversity.

The Warriors lost star quarterback RJ Rosborough in the first quarter and Alvarado stepped in to play QB and threw two touchdown passes and ran for 78 yards. Backup Cody Wilson was propelled into a leading role and had three game-changing catches.

Tom Whittaker, Morehouse’s classmate in Carpinteria’s class of 1980, has been battling cancer since 2001 and was Morehouse’s inspiration for the pre-game speech. According to Morehouse, Whittaker is “a community hero and he’s truly a display of courage. We appreciate him and we appreciate our athletes for responding to that call.”

To learn more about Whittaker’s story, visit

Dos Pueblos coach Jeff Uyesaka admitted that the jets that flew over the stadium near kickoff were merely a coincidence and didn’t come out of the athletic budget to celebrate the first football game at Scott O’Leary Field.

The much-anticipated first true home game came and went, with the Chargers getting cut down by a 4-0 Lompoc team. Uyesaka introduced quarterback Zack Boytis, who scored the first-ever touchdown at Scott O’Leary Field, and Branden Tangel, who is responsible for place-kicking and safety duties.

O’Leary Field will pack them in for a second time this Friday when Righetti comes to town.

Two local football programs, Santa Barbara High and SBCC, have had early seasons that have been tough to swallow.

But, more importantly, coaches from each team think their teams are headed in the right directions and poised to enter the win column despite more tough matchups ahead.

The Vaqueros (0-4) have faced four playoff teams from last year already and have L.A. Southwest next on their schedule.

Santa Barbara (0-3) has had to travel to face solid teams in Beverly Hills and more recently, Righetti. The Dons’ one home loss came against Oxnard, who is 4-0 and coming to DP on Friday, and are home again this week against another solid program in San Luis Obispo.

“We’re 0-3. Are we an 0-3 team? No.” Assistant Jaime Melgoza sounded confident despite the winless record, blaming turnovers on lack of victories. “Are we a pretty good team? Yes. Are we going to win games? I think so.

“They know what it takes to win and I know they’re going to.”

Dons Spencer Kelly and Stephen Peña were on hand.

While the Vaqueros lost the inaugural Southern California Football Association game against Antelope Valley, coach Craig Moropoulos continues to see improvement from his young squad. He brought with him defensive players Osvaldo Donato and Dos Pueblos grad Gary Braun as examples of his youth movement.

Bishop Diego football came oh-so close to getting its first victory over the weekend, suffering a hard-fought 14-13 setback to Santa Paula. Even in defeat, senior quarterback Anthony Martinez has shined. He completed 90 percent of his passes in the first half including Bishop’s two touchdowns. Sophomore Vince Figueroa has emerged as a leader on both offense and defense as a lineman and, for the first time on Friday, at linebacker.

Athletic director Dan Peeters brought Brooke Czulegar and Emily Harrington from the Cardinals’ Tri-Valley League-contending girls tennis team.

Czulegar, a four-year letter winner, and Harrington, No. 2 singles, lead a Bishop team off to a 3-1 start and 2-0 in league.

San Marcos girls volleyball has been busier than anyone lately. In two weeks, 16 matches have been contested including those in tournament play (matches aren’t counted towards overall record).

All the practice has paid off. The Royals started off 0-2 but have started to groove and are now 7-3 on the year. Four-year starter Kristen Kuntz runs the show as setter and gets help from Kristin Schroeder and Jenn Waddill. San Marcos has size on the outside in junior 5’11”-hitter Flo Chardon, an all-tournament selection from this weekend’s Royal Tournament. A Dos Pueblos-San Marcos clash looms on Thursday.

Carpinteria hosted its tournament, which dates back to 1980. Of 13 teams, including Cate and Bishop Diego, the Warriors finished fifth. Opposite hitter Megan McMahon and backrow Monique Alvarado led Carp to an 8-4 record on the day. Tournament-winner St. Bonaventure comes to Carpinteria for a Tri-Valley League match on Thursday.

A former Dos Pueblos standout, sophomore Vanessa Shaw, has taken her A-game to SBCC. Shaw earned all-tournament honors at the San Diego City Tournament while leading the Vaqueros to a fifth-place finish with 32 kills.

As for SBCC soccer programs, athletic director Mike Warren announced that coach John Sisterson has both the men’s and women’s teams ranked nationally. The women have not lost a game (5-0-4). Warren singled out the play of Santa Barbara High product Ricky Fein in the midfield for the women and the play of the always-dangerous Mark Knight for the men. Knight, who led the state of California last season with 28 goals, has nine so far this year.

More firepower that wasn’t able to attend: Honorable Mention Athletes of the Week — Brandon Cowan (SBHS water polo); Chris Braden (DPHS Cross Country); Kristopher Minton (UCSB soccer); Zoe Miller-April Ludwick (SBHS tennis); Genelle Ives (UCSB soccer); Lauren McLaughlin (UCSB volleyball).