Moropoulos proud of his local players

SBCC football coach Craig Moropoulos is a Santa Barbara native, and his program is a reflection of it.

At Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, he expressed his hometown pride regarding Saturday’s wacky 26-21 win over visiting L.A. Southwest. The Cougars seemingly had the game in hand up 21-19 and were trying to kill the clock on the SBCC 10-yard line with 1:25 remaining. In the span of 24 seconds, the Vaqueros recovered a fumble and found the end zone.

“In 26 years I’ve never been in a game like that,” said Moropoulos.

His biggest source of pride from the victory was the impact made by players from the Santa Barbara area. The game included a combined 35 tackles from San Marcos High grads Manny Hernandez and Sam Shipley. Former Santa Barbara High star John Uribe threw for 330 yards, with seven completions and 140 yards racked up by wide receiver Art Gonzalez, who starred at Bishop Diego. Kicker Shane Rogers, who used to play at Nordhoff High in Ojai, kicked a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Buena High School grad Matthew Arve had an interception with under a minute to go that sealed the win.

“That’s what I’m most proud of, and that’s what we’re trying to build at Santa Barbara — bring those local guys back into that program,” he said.

WARD REMEMBERED: At last Monday’s luncheon, it was announced that legendary local basketball coach John Ward had been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Tragically, Ward passed away mid-week after a brief battle with the disease. This week’s luncheon was filled with memories of the Carpinteria High athletic director, math teacher and basketball coach. Nearly every speaker at Harry’s had something to say about Ward, who will be remembered at a public ceremony at Carpinteria High’s Memorial Stadium at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“Thank you to so many of you who have expressed your condolences over Coach Ward. We certainly will convey those to our school and our administration,” said Warrior football coach Ben Hallock, whose team honored Ward with a 28-0 victory against Santa Clara in Oxnard on Friday night.

EIGHT’S GOING GREAT: The 8-man football programs at Cate and Laguna Blanca are both 3-0 to start the season. The Rams are ranked No. 6 in the state by while the Owls are ranked No. 20. Cate athletic director Wade Ransom said that Cate is expecting upwards of 1,000 fans for Saturday’s home game against East Valley High School, as the contest coincides with the school’s centennial celebration. He introduced running back Gregory Mak and receiver Luke Shover. Mak, also the team’s backup quarterback, has thrown four touchdowns on halfback pass plays this year — all to Shover. Both seniors are hoping for appointments to one of the Service Academies next year.

Laguna Blanca, meanwhile, defeated Dunn in the Owls’ homecoming on Saturday, with five different players scoring touchdowns in the first half. Coach Ray Robitaille introduced wide receiver Kevin Drew, who had a touchdown and two interceptions, as well as Logan Elder, who led the team in tackles in the game.

Sportsperson of the Month Jean Debettignies

SBCC SOCCER SOARING: Both Vaquero soccer teams are currently enjoying six-game winning streaks. Sports information director Dave Loveton reported that the men’s team has posted six consecutive shutouts and is ranked fifth in the state, while the women are outscoring opponents 36-6 so far this season. Jessican Domenichelli has led the way with an incredible 13 goals through nine games.

BISHOP BATTLES INJURIES: Bishop Diego football has had terrible luck with injuries this year, losing two two-ways starters in the opening game of the season before losing two more running backs in Friday’s hard-fought 34-29 loss at undefeated Fillmore. But coach Tom Crawford has seen an impressive amount of resilience from the players still suited up. He brought quarterback Nolan Tisdale — who threw for four touchdowns on Friday — and Jesus Valle, the team’s only remaining tailback.

“Our three losses have all gone down to the last three-and-a-half minutes of the contest, so I think as we deal with the adversity and get healthy we’ll get over the hump and get ourselves a couple of wins,” said Crawford.

MARQUES MAKES IT BACK: The speaker at the podium before Crawford, Westmont women’s soccer coach Kristi Kiely, introduced a player whom the Cardinals can take a lot of inspiration from as they try to get healthy.

Male Athlete of the Week Paul "Munchie" Aguilar

Candace Marques, a senior captain for the Warriors, has torn her ACL twice during her college career but is back on the field playing for Westmont, which is 4-3-2 on the year and 1-1 in a cutthroat Golden State Athletic Conference.

“They don’t make it back a lot of times, and she fought back and is now for us in the middle of the field and ended up scoring the game-winning goal this last game on Saturday… We’re really proud of her,” said Kiely of Marques.

SPORTSPERSON OF THE MONTH: Jean Debettignies is a local athletic trainer who has tirelessly served as medical and crew chief for the Kalyra Women’s Cycling Team in their three attempts at a transcontinental record in the Race Across America. The team simultaneously raises funds for Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara. Debettignies’ work has involved hundreds of hours of service to the team.

“It was because of Jean’s efforts to the team that they were able to raise thousands of dollars for Girls Inc. and do it in record-setting time,” said award presenter Laurie Leighty.

“This is such a great community to work with… I just had never imagined how much fun I would have doing this,” said Debettignies.


Female Athlete of the Week Haley True

Haley True, Santa Barbara High Golf — True was the cornerstone of a remarkable week for the Dons. The senior earned medalist honors as SBHS beat Dos Pueblos for the first time ever earlier in the week, and she then fired a school-record round of 38 in a win over Ventura High on Thursday. Santa Barbara also shot its lowest team score in program history at the match.

Coach Ryan Throop pointed out that the program has truly blossomed during True’s careers. When she was a freshman, the Dons’ goal was simply to win a match. Well, now they’re 4-0 in a strong Channel League.

Paul “Munchie” Aguilar, Carpinteria High Football — Aguilar was back at the quarterback spot for the Warriors in their emotional win at Santa Clara on Friday after missing two games due to injury. He led a potent Carpinteria rushing attack with 215 yards on 21 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown run in the first half.

The Warriors are 3-1 on the year and have not given up any points for seven quarters.