Record number trying out for SBCC football

Santa Barbara City College football coach Craig Moropoulos talks about the Vaqueros' upcoming season.

Santa Barbara City College football coach Craig Moropoulos talks about the Vaqueros’ upcoming season.

When the Santa Barbara City College football season begins just over two months from now, the Vaqueros will have been forged from the intense roster competition currently happening at La Playa Stadium.

“We’ve got 143 guys in the program right now, which is the most we’ve ever had at this point, so it’s a good problem. But managing that many guys, and getting a look, evaluating each guy is a challenge,” said SBCC head coach Craig Moropoulos at practice this week.

The Vaqueros are coming off their best season in 22 years but have many holes to fill after sending several key players on to four-year colleges. Quarterback Jarred Evans signed with Cincinnati and cornerback Tavonte Jackson received a full scholarship to Idaho State. Star linebacker Morgan Nevin is now at Sacramento State, and Jackson Weed, another linebacker, will be playing for Glenville State. Also gone is All-State punter Tim Gleeson, All-APC place-kicker Marcus Hoerberg, and All-APC receiver Jacob Arnell.

The evaluation process includes a competition for the starting quarterback gig. Former Bishop Diego quarterback Nolan Tisdale is looking for the job in his sophomore season.

“Out here we have 12 quarterbacks so you really have to stay in line, keep focused and work hard,” Tisdale said. “The competition is a notch higher.”

Cheroke Cunningham - SBCC Football

Cheroke Cunningham, a First-Team All-Channel League player last year for Santa Barbara High, is one of several local products trying out for the Vaqueros. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Following up a 7-3 season, Moropoulos says the Vaqueros must be ready on both sides of the line of scrimmage. SBCC is seeking its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996 and ’97.

“We have to be solid on defense,” Moropoulos said. “And we run a no-huddle offense so we’re going to really focus on being in great condition, really hustling around to be in better condition than people we play in the third and fourth quarter.”

To that effect, SBCC is spending two hours a day working on strength and conditioning and one hour on football drills. It’s non-contact training during the early summer months until August.

“We’re just working on chemistry,” Tisdale said. “We’re working on timing, getting to know everybody. Getting to know receivers, just really working on fundamentals, working on strength and conditioning, just making sure we’re getting right for pads.”

The season schedule begins on Saturday, September 6 with a home game against San Bernardino Valley. San Bernardino went 8-3 last year and lost to Southwestern 34-23 in the Patriotic Bowl.

“They’re very good. They’re going to be big and physical. That’s the (game) I’m focusing on,” Moropoulos said.

Fans attending the San Bernardino opener will notice a new scoreboard at La Playa Stadium. The significant upgrade – with modern digital video capabilities – will replace the aging scoreboard at the West end of the stadium that has been in place for decades.

Inter-county rival Hancock will host the Vaqueros in Week 2, followed by another road game at East Los Angeles College the next week. The seven-game American Pacific Conference schedule then starts on Saturday, September 27 against West L.A at La Playa Stadium.

It’s the first time in seven years that the Vaqueros will not face Hancock in the season opener.

Moropoulos will make his first round of cuts in early August, taking the time until then to identify the group of student-athletes best suited to not only help SBCC win, but to succeed in the classroom as well.

“We just want to make sure they understand that they’re coming here to go to school first and to play second. And if you do both of those things, you’re going to have a pretty good experience,” Moropoulos said.

For many of the players, the studying has already begun during summer vacation.

“We gotta study the playbook. We have to work hard, We can’t cut corners and we got to be committed and trust each other. That’s what it’s going to take,” Tisdale said.


2014 SBCC Football Schedule

Sept. 6: San Bernardino Valley 4 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Hancock (Righetti High) 4 p.m.
Sept. 20: at East Los Angeles 6 p.m.
Sept. 27: West L.A.* 1 p.m.
Oct. 4: L.A. Southwest* 1 p.m.
Oct. 11: —Bye—
Oct. 18: at L.A. Valley* 6 p.m.
Oct. 25: L.A. Pierce* 1 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Antelope Valley* 1 p.m.
Nov. 8: at Santa Monica* 1 p.m.
Nov. 15: Glendale* 1 p.m.
All Games on Saturday
* American Pacific Conference game