Timers and touchdowns highlight first luncheon

Time is a hot commodity at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheons.

The weekly event starts at high noon, and the athletes have to be back at school as soon as possible to get to class… That means coaches aren’t supposed to stand at the podium and spend 15 minutes going through the intricacies of their team’s defensive schemes or how well the waterboys did in the last game.

New president Catharine Manset Morreale has brought back the “3-minute rule” which keeps the speeches short so the kids can get back on time. The original enforcer himself — nonagenarian SBART co-founder Jerry Harwin — was present Monday to help enforce the rule.

He even wrote down how long the coaches went on his placemat at the head table, and gave a friendly tap of the glass with a fork when a coach was going too far over the time limit. Legend has it that Harwin used to jab the coach in the leg with the fork back in the luncheon’s early days.


— SBCC: Craig Moropoulos received the only glass-tap from Harwin at Monday’s opening luncheon, but if any coach deserved to have all the time he wanted it was him. Moropoulos’ SBCC football team came back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to upset No. 5 Canyons 17-14 at La Playa Stadium on Saturday.

SBCC head coach Craig Moropoulos speaks about his team's stunning upset of Canyons on Saturday.

SBCC head coach Craig Moropoulos speaks about his team's stunning upset of Canyons on Saturday.

Moropoulos, who used to coach in the Channel League at Santa Barbara High, likened beating Canyons to beating St. Bonaventure at the high school level, which is something no league opponent has ever done.

“You don’t realize how big it is until your phone starts going off and you start getting all the text messages,” said Moropoulos.

Also representing the Vaquero squad were defensive coordinator Jeff Santarosa, running back/fullback Tristan Carter and defensive lineman Joel Boucher. Boucher earned honorable mention as Athlete of the Week for recording six tackles (two for a loss) and 1.5 sacks in the monumental upset. He also returned a short punt seven yards that set up the winning drive.

SBCC hosts rival Ventura on Saturday at 6 p.m.

— SANTA BARBARA HIGH: The Dons also had a strong second half this week, but the vast improvement down the stretch still couldn’t produce any points in a 28-0 loss at Oxnard.

“I thought our kids played really well and showed a lot of heart,” said first-year head coach Jaime Melgoza. “The great thing about it is that we’re going up. These kids are unbelievable at practice.”

Quarterback RJ Rosborough made his debut for the Dons in the game and went 10-for-23 for 140 yards and an interception and he also recorded 11 solo tackles on defense. Along with Rosborough was big lineman Stephen Peña, one of the few returners in the trenches for the Dons, who host Beverly Hills on Thursday night.

— SAN MARCOS: Jeff Hesselmeyer has been at SBART luncheons for decades, but Monday’s was his first as head coach for the San Marcos Royals. The coach paid homage to two legendary local coaches whose framed pictures are on the wall — Scott O’Leary and Mike Hart — before recognizing three more coaches who are also Round Table board members — John Stoney, Moe Claydon and Bob Archer.

Claydon and Archer are on Hesselmeyer’s staff this season, and they have a very experienced group of players to work with.

The Royals hung touch at Rio Mesa on Friday but had turnover problems and ultimately lost 23-7.

“I don’t know if we’re going to play too many teams bigger than Rio,” said Hesselmeyer, whose team plays at Lompoc on Friday.

He was joined by seniors Manny Hernandez and Taylor Gonzales, who each played on both sides of the ball for about 90 percent of Friday’s game.

“They’re outstanding football players and even better people,” said the coach.

— DOS PUEBLOS: DP is playing its first full slate of true home games this year, and the Chargers’ first of the season was a hard-fought 16-3 loss to San Luis Obispo on Friday night.

Coach Jeff Uyesaka was brief in his comments and introduced captain Brandon Tangle, who played free safety and wide receiver in the game and racked up six solo tackles as well as a handful of assists.

DP plays at Righetti on Friday night. After finishing up, Uyesaka joked that he would donate any time he didn’t use at the podium to Moropoulos for next week.

— CARPINTERIA: Time is something that Ben Hallock has spent a lot of at the SBART luncheons — his first was as a player all the way back in 1971. He’s been coming ever since as a head coach at Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and now Carpinteria once again.

“Back then I had a lot of hair, I didn’t need glasses and I weighed less. Now I’m a grandpa,” he said.

The Warriors are 0-2 after playing two games against teams called the Pirates (Santa Ynez and Morro Bay), but their defense has been remarkably stingy thus far. On Friday, they lost a 6-0 decision at Morro Bay.

“Our defense has been great, but our offense still needs to find a little rhythm,” said Hallock.

Joining Hallock was the team’s leading receiver, tight end Jeremy Stein, who is also an outstanding punter. He blasted a 64-yarder on Friday against Morro Bay and had a 59-yarder against Santa Ynez. Also present was senior linebacker Nick Razo.

— BISHOP DIEGO: The Cardinals are also off to an 0-2 start, including a 59-18 loss at third-ranked St. Joseph in the 20th annual Catholic Cup on Friday. St. Joe led 49-0 at the half against the Cardinals, who are a very young group dealing with health issues. Athletic Director Dan Peeters highlighted Paul Ortega for playing despite a hip-pointer and Garrett Garcia for playing through a nasty case of the flu.

The Cardinals will try to turn things around against Fillmore at La Playa Stadium on Friday night.

— LAGUNA BLANCA: The 8-man football season has also begun, and Laguna Blanca coach Ray Robitalle was on hand to discuss the Owls’ road loss to Cornerstone Christian. Laguna Blanca trailed 41-8 at halftime but won the second half 8-7 as things ended at 48-16. Freshman Brian Miguel caught a touchdown pass in his first-ever football game, and Robitaille brought sophomore quarterback Troy Ritter and running back Austin Rusack to Harry’s.

The Owls play at Hillcrest Christian on Saturday.


— CARPINTERIA: Athletic Director John Ward started by saying he was happy to see Harwin at the luncheon.

“We’ll give you an extra minute,” said Harwin immediately, drawing a roar of laughter from the room.

The Carpinteria water polo program has a new coach in Brian Swarm, and Ward introduced a couple of well-dressed young men in junior Garrett Prather and freshman Ben O’Hara. Both were wearing ties.

— SAN MARCOS: Jeff Ashton’s San Marcos water polo team showed up to the Conejo Valley Classic Tournament with nine players. The Royals’ first opponent, Palos Verdes, had an advantage when it came to personnel.

“There were 22 of them, and we could hardly warm up in the pool because they were too wide,” said Ashton.

The Royals trailed just 6-3 at the half but eventually lost 15-5 and went 2-3 in the tournament. Ashton introduced Andre Rivera, one of four returners, and goalie Chris Bebb.

— SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Mark Walsh’s Santa Barbara High water polo team graduated lots of talent last year, but an 0-2 start isn’t necessarily indicative of a down year, as the losses were against top-flight programs in Loyola and Mira Costa.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Dons, who face perennial contenders Servite and Esperanza this week. There are only two returners for Walsh this year, and he brought both of them to Harry’s.

Brendan Kerwin-McElroy is the team’s most accomplished and experienced player, and Walsh said that he will “have his choice of a lot of colleges to go play water polo for.”

Ken Myers is a whiz kid in and out of the pool, and he even tutors his peers in Calculus BC.

“He’s the smartest normal kid I’ve ever coached in my life,” joked Walsh.

— UCSB: The Gaucho men’s water polo team is ranked sixth in the nation and is off to a 3- 1 start, with the only loss of the year coming at the hands of top-ranked USC.

Up this weekend is a trip to the Stanford Invitational, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country. Assistant coach Tim Settem introduced senior captain Sean Castillo and encouraged the community to come out and support the team at Campus Pool.

“Next to men’s and women’s soccer, we have the biggest turnout at UCSB,” said Settem.


— UCSB: Speaking of UCSB men’s and women’s soccer, both teams were represented at the year’s first luncheon.

Men’s assistant coach Leo Chappel discussed the Gauchos’ first slip-up of the season, a 2-1 loss to Loyola Marymount, a team that always seems to give the Gauchos fits. UCSB actually suffered two losses in the game, as Male Athlete of the Week David Walker — the team’s senior captain — broke two fingers in the match.

Regardless, the fourth-ranked Gauchos are off to a great start which included a 4-0 drubbing of Rutgers on national television last week. Walker’s goal in that game was his fourth in as many matches, and he was named MVP of the West Virginia University/Nike Classic.

On the women’s side, Paul Stumpf’s Gaucho squad has been on the road for nearly the entire season thus far. UCSB is 2-4-1 after playing six road games in four states against four nationally ranked teams. The good news is that seven of the team’s last 11 matches will be played at Harder Stadium. Stumpf introduced junior captains Jacqui Simon and Nicole Romanowski.

— WESTMONT: There’s lots of construction going on up at Westmont College, as the Warriors are eagerly awaiting a new soccer, track and baseball facilities.

“Speaking of construction, I’ve got a couple of soccer teams who feel like they’re under construction right now,” said men’s and women’s soccer coach Dave Wolf. The Westmont men are currently 2-2 while the women stand at 1-2-1.

A local flavor has been added to each team this season and it is paying off. Santa Ynez High graduate Aolani Rueff has four goals in four games to start her college career, and former Santa Barbara High star Daniel Torres — a father of two — has been given an opportunity to return to school and play for Westmont. He is already having a big impact, according to Wolf.


— ROTTMAN: This week’s Female Athlete of the Week was Emily Rottman, a senior on the Santa Barbara High girls volleyball team. Rottman recorded 21 kills in a win over Newbury Park and 24 digs with 19 kills in a 4-set win over defending Division I-AA champion Santa Margarita. The Dons are the defending champs in Division I-A.

— HIGH-FIVE PAYS OFF: The athletic directors from every local high school and college were recognized at the beginning of the luncheon, and after that President-elect Rich Hanna had the honor of doling out checks to each high school AD on behalf of the SBART. The checks, which totaled a little more than $1,000 each, were raised at this year’s Hi-Five Tennis Tournament, one of the Round Table’s annual fund raisers to benefit local athletic programs.

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