Luncheon crowd reminded “what it’s all about”

San Marcos football coach Dare Holdren always brings a few wisecracks to the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon, but in the last few weeks he’s also brought some sincere thoughts about the importance of athletics.

This week, Jesse Rosentrater and Dan Hauck received the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month award for their hard work and dedication to their softball teams, and Holdren later imparted his thoughts on the award’s importance after talking about his football team’s tough loss on Friday.

The Royals had a 21-7 lead with about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but saw the lead slip away in an eventual 34-21 homecoming defeat at the hands of Arroyo Grande.

“We’re upbeat, we’re ready to go,” said Holdren of this Friday’s Channel League opener against Ventura. “But again, this thing isn’t about wins or losses anyway. It’s about competing and enjoying the game.

“And I love that we have our Special Olympians here today and I congratulate you gentlemen on your awards, because you really show what sports is all about… It’s about taking lessons from it, moving on and keeping your head up and everything you guys do on a daily basis.”

Holdren brought do-it-all senior Jordan Bishop and long-snapper Tyler Mallard to be recognized.

Coming off of its first win the week before, Santa Barbara High also lost a fourth-quarter lead on Friday, falling to Pacifica on the road 38-37 despite leading by nine with five minutes to play.

“Once you get that first one, you believe you can win,” said coach Will Gonzales. “But I think our guys believed a little too much on Friday.”

What Gonzales couldn’t believe is that tight end Travis Frecker did in the classroom last year as a junior.

“I seriously didn’t even know this was possible, but last year he had a 5.0 GPA. I almost told him to get out of the car when he told me that,” said Gonzales jokingly.

Also at Harry’s was starting free safety Carlos Cordero, who has yet to see an action after injuring his knee during a scrimmage against St. Joseph. The good news for the Dons is that he will be back in time for the rivalry game against San Marcos.

Before they face the Royals, however, the Dons have another crosstown showdown on their hands, as they take on Dos Pueblos at Valley Stadium on Friday.

The field at San Marcos had been where DP had played all of its home games before earlier this season, when they hosted their first two home games at O’Leary Stadium on the campus at Dos Pueblos. Valley Stadium will accomodate the larger crowd expected Friday.

“We’re not at our home-home, but we’re home,” said coach Jeff Uyesaka.

The Chargers finished the preseason in fine fashion, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter Friday to beat Rio Mesa on the road 30-22. Uyesaka said that his team will need to score 30 again to beat Santa Barbara, an offense averaging that many points per game.

Along with Uyesaka was standout defensive back and wide receiver Isaiha Brown, who pulled in an interception and a touchdown catch against Rio Mesa. Also present was offensive lineman Gabe Ocampo, whom the Chargers have been running behind all season.

Bishop Diego got its first win of the season at Grace Brethren on Friday, and Athlete of the Week Anthony Martinez — the Cardinals’ senior quarterback — was a big reason for that thanks to a 45-yard touchdown run and another touchdown through the air in the first quarter of the 33-24 victory.

Coach Tom Crawford said that his team did a nice job of playing one play at a time. As far as the Santa Barbara Dons perhaps being too confident in their game this week, Crawford said that his Cardinals certainly won’t be facing that problem, as the host mighty Oaks Christian at La Playa Stadium on Friday.

“Every time we look at them on tape it’s like looking at a college team… But we’ll host them at La Playa Stadium Friday night, and I know our guys will put in the effort,” said Crawford.

Laguna Blanca faced an Oaks Christian-like team on Saturday in Faith Baptist, hanging tough but eventually losing 46-0.

“The score was not indicative of how we played,” said Ray Robitaille.

Robitaille brought along outside linebacker Sam Kent and Virginia-transplant Connor Patrick, who is a star lacrosse player when not on the football field.

Next up is the “Littlest Big Game,” when the Owls head to Carpinteria to face rival Cate in an 8-man showdown.

“They’ve beaten us the past two years, so we’re looking for a little payback,” said Robitaille.

Girls volleyball had one of its biggest big games on Thursday, as Dos Pueblos took down Santa Barbara in four games in front of a raucous crowd at Sovine Gym. The Chargers went into the match ranked third while the Dons were in the top spot.

DP junior Carly Wopat and her twin sister Sam came to Harry’s and were celebrating their 16th birthday Monday. Both had exceptional weeks for the Chargers. Assistant coach Tina Brown said that the twins are two of the top recruits in the country for the class of 2010.

Carly was named female Athlete of the Week for her 10-kill, 10-dig, 3-block performance against the Dons, and she also put on a great performance down at the California Cup in Torrey Pines, where DP finished third after falling to the nation’s top-ranked team, La Costa Canyon, in a close match.

“I think if we didn’t know they were the No. 1 team in the nation, we probably would have beaten them,” said Brown.

The Dons may have come up short against the Chargers, but coach John Gannon couldn’t deny that the atmosphere at the match was fantastic.

“The environment in that gym was the best volleybal environment I’ve seen in this town in 10 years of coaching atSanta Barbara High School,” said Gannon. “It was a heck of a volleyball match with some great moments.”

Perhaps feeling some aftershock from the emotional match, Santa Barbara fell on the road on Saturday to defending state-champion Harvard-Westlake, whom the Dons had beaten earlier in the season. Gannon’s team won the first two sets but lost the next three.

“The lesson I learned as a coach is that if you schedule four Saturdays in a row of matches it kind of wears on a team,” said Gannon.

Two seniors from the Dons were there — middle blocker Hadley Simmons and setter Natalie Guerra. Both may continue to play for the Dons even after graduation, as they are both considering playing for the Dons of the University of San Franciso next season. USF also wears green and gold.

San Marcos had a great week, beating Ventura in four games on Thursday to strengthen their position atop the race for third place in the Channel League. Tuesday is an even bigger match, as the Royals will play their main competition for that third and final playoff spot, Buena.

Kuntz recognized two JV players from last year who have stepped into starting roles on the varsity squad and excelled this year. Grace Conner has become the team’s top target at middle blocker, and Ana Gerngross has been solid on the outside.

“Our team chemistry is high right now,” said Kuntz.

Jim Alzina’s Laguna Blanca Owls got to play DP on Monday and put up a nice fight, but ultimately fell to the Chargers for their first non-tournament loss of the season.

“I’m very impressed that a school of 200 kids can play against a school of that size and match up pretty well with them,” said Alzina.

Along will Alzina was 4-year varsity standout and captain Katie Borden, who had nine kills against DP. Monica Beltran — another 4-year varsity player — was also there and “is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen” according to Alzina.

Kate Dolge’s Crpinteria spikers had a great week, defeating rival Bishop Diego.

“With Carpinteria and Bishop, when one team comes out the winner, no matter how the season ends you’re always going to be happy,” said Dolge.

The Warriors also beat their neighborhood rivals, the Cate Rams. Middle blocker Chanel Lauren and defensive specialist Jaclyn Guerrero were with Dolge, and the coach said both were big parts of the winning week.

Assistant coach Peter Fuller of the UCSB women’s volleyball team was also at Harry’s making his debut luncheon appearance.. The Gauchos are currently 7-9 and are third in the Big West, coming off of a tough five-game loss to rival Long Beach State.

Westmont sports information director Ron Smith got up and spoke about the Warrior volleyball team, which is currently in 8th place out of 11 in the Golden State Athletic Conference. That’s pretty darn good, considering the country’s top four teams are also the GSAC’s top four, and those ahead of Westmont in the standings are also ranked in the top 25. The Warriors are receiving votes in the polls as well. Smith said that the fan support has been great, and that players Sami Miller and Kaylie Blair have been “electrifying” so far.

Also, the newly renovated Murchison Gym at Westmont will have its floor officially dedicated as “Kammerer Court” in honor of longtime Westont coach Chet Kammerer on December 13th.

SBCC Athletic Director Mike Warren said that the Vaqueros are in a similar position due to the elite status of the Western State Conference. Dos Pueblos grad Vanessa Shaw has been outstanding for Ed Gover’s team, and Warren brought along San Marcos alum Maria Meyer and Oaks Christian product Tara Ahern to be applauded for their efforts.

The nets are a little lower for tennis, but the level of achievement has still been high for the 11-2 Dos Pueblos Chargers, who lost a tight one against might Santa Barbara on Thursday, winding up on the short end of a 9-9 tie that was decided by games.

Liz Frech brought along her standout doubles team of Amy Sagraves and Amy Logan, a duo which is 113-30 lifetime and an incredible 32-3 this season.

“How they play dubs is a tennis instructor’s dream,” said coach Liz Frech.

Ryan Throop was the only coach present to talk about prep golf, but his Dons have certainly had a season to talk about thus far. The team is of to its best record ever at 10-2, and is 3-1 after the first round of Channel League play. Throop introduced sophomore Sarah Kirkwood, whom he called the team’s best player from 100 yards and in. He also introduced sophomore sensation Olivia Fanaro, who has led the Dons in every match but one and “is the best girls golfer to ever come through Santa Barbara High,” according to Throop.

SBCC’s Warren also discussed the Vaquero golfers, who are an impressive 29-1 on the year and are sure to contend for the WSC, regional and state titles at the end of the season. The also play a rare home match at Santa Barbara Golf Club on Monday at 10 a.m., and Warren encouraged all who can make it to take in a great morning of golf.

(photos by Maryann Stuehrmann)