A look at Bishop Diego, Carpinteria, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Santa Barbara

Prep Football Season Preview

After weeks of practice, the local high school football teams are ready to put on the uniforms, run into the stadium and play real games. The season begins Friday with four teams playing Week Zero contests.

Bishop Diego faces Righetti at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium in a battle of CIF Division 3 teams; Santa Barbara travels to Hueneme; Dos Pueblos opens at Pacifica in Oxnard and San Marcos plays at West Ranch in Santa Clarita. Carpinteria begins its season next Friday against Santa Ynez.

To get you ready for the season, Presidio Sports previews the area’s five 11-man football teams. All five teams have a talented and motivated group of senior players who want to finish their high school careers on a high note.

We have capsules on each team accompanied by video interviews with the head coaches and key players.


BISHOP DIEGO: The Cardinals enter their second season in CIF Division 3 with most of their playmakers returning from last year’s 10-2 season. Senior quarterback Spencer Stovesand will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Big, powerful running back John Harris (6-2, 195) is coming off a freshman season in which he rushed for 748 yards and averaged 10 yards a carry; senior Matt Shotwell (6-0, 210) is a punishing fullback; senior slotback AV Bennett, the CIF Division 3 100- and 200-meter sprint champion in track & field, is a potential game-breaker anytime he gets his hands on the ball; senior Mike Agnoli is a big receiving target at 6-foot-5 and Dylan Streett is 6-2. If that’s not plenty of firepower, throw in senior running back Mike Soracco (5-8, 210), a transfer from Eagle Rock High in the L.A. City Section who rushed for 1,198 yards and scored 15 TDs as junior. Soracco and Shotwell lead an experienced defensive unit at linebacker. Bennett is also a playmaker in the secondary and an outstanding kick returner. Agnoli returns at the defensive end spot. The question mark for Bishop will be the development of the offensive and defensive fronts. Hector Nolasco (6-0, 225) is the lone returning starter on the offensive line. The Cardinals have more size on the lines but they’re short on game experience. “We have some returning guys in critical spots for us and, quite frankly, they have to do a job early on while the young guys get caught up,” said coach Tom Crawford.


CARPINTERIA: The Warriors have size and experience in the offensive line, which should make quarterback Mikey Garibay feel more comfortable in his first varsity season. Garibay was the JV quarterback last year. The O-line has one underclassman in sophomore David Torres at center and the rest are seniors with game experience, led by tackles Jose Pancho Sanchez (6-1, 265) and Nico Garcia (6-3, 267). Garibay also has senior support in the backfield and at receiver. He’ll be handing the ball off to fullbacks Aaron Vargas and Tim Jimenez and tailback Oscar Garcia, and throwing it to wide receiver Jimmy Graves, who was last year’s starting quarterback. On defense, senior Sam Ernst (5-8, 215) is back at noseguard and Sanchez returns as a defensive end. Michael Arroyo and Jason Martinez spearhead the linebacker corps, while the defensive backfield boasts returnees Garcia, Jimenez, Memo Tavira and Fernando Martinez. “We have a great nucleus and a really fine corps of guys who are doing everything we ask them to do, and they’re enthusiastic about it,” said longtime coach Ben Hallock. “I feel great about this group.”


DOS PUEBLOS: Coach Nate Mendoza has 70 players on his squad, and several saw action last season. “When you get kids back with game experience, it’s huge,” said Mendoza. Quarterback Kellen Roberts is one of those players with game experience. Because of an injury, he was thrust into duty early last season as a sophomore. The mobile, 6-2 signal caller will be running a high-tempo attack, which, he says, suits his style of play. Roberts has experienced players around him, starting with big-play senior receiver Josh Flora. His big targets include 6-1, 220-pound senior Austen Pearce and 6-3, 195 junior Marcellous Gossett. Senior Manny Nwosu (5-11, 194), who helped the soccer team win the Channel League title and lost 25 pounds in the offseason, will show off his increased speed and strength as a running back — he was a defensive end last season. Juniors Irvin Miguel and Chris Noggle are a pair of powerful running backs that will strengthen the ground game. The backs will operate behind a big line led by four-year varsity tackle Erik Botello (6-1, 255). Joining him is sophomore Erick Nisich (6-3, 246), who got playing time as a freshman. DP has several linemen that are over 225 pounds. The defense has lots of experience. Returning starters include Flora and Blake Erwin in the secondary, Gossett and Pearce at the ends, Botello at tackle and Isahi Melendez, Isaac Lopez and Miguel at linebacker. Noggle is expected to be an impact player at linebacker. The DP defense is coached by Doug Caines, the former head coach at Santa Barbara High. “He’s been a tremendous addition,” Mendoza said. “It’s allowed me to be a better coach having a guy like him around.”


SAN MARCOS: “We are in the truest sense a blue-collar team,” coach Anthony Linebaugh said of his 2015 Royals. Linebaugh spent the offseason determining where players could be best utilized for the team to be successful. “I have a lot of players in new positions. We’re doing a lot of learning right now to accelerate that growth, that learning curve, if you will, leading up to the season.” The biggest change was converting D’Shaun Vines into a quarterback. He played tight end last. “D’Shaun is a team-first guy and also a leader,” Linebaugh said. “He possesses the athleticism and poise you want in that leadership role.” Vines will have senior running back Ivan Reyes behind him. He gained 889 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season. Reyes and Vines will have the luxury of working behind an experience line that includes seniors Anthony Pico, Anthony Ramirez, Rogelio Lopez, Abe Kesablyan and junior Josh Harrah. “We call them our Men up Front. The have to be exemplary in terms of their ability to communicate, to execute and to lead the team.” Vines will have a young group of receivers, led by sophomore Luke Pollock. Jairo Sosa, Anthony Diaz and senior Ryan Broumand also are in the mix. Senior linebacker Paul Gularte (47 tackles last season) leads the defensive unit. Charles Acuna, Paul Espinosa and Canaan will play in the trenches. Mark Carroll is a returning starter in the secondary.


SANTA BARBARA: With improved size and strength on the line and an experienced, talented, motivated group of seniors, the Dons have the ingredients to make a run at a league title and CIF playoff berth. “We’ve always had what coach (Jaime) Melgoza says, ‘the corazon,’ so we’d always stay in the games, but more size is actually going to help us push through the fourth quarter and actually win more ballgames this year,” said senior linebacker/running back Carter Soto. The offense starts with quarterback Brent Peus, a three-year starter. He passed for 2,215 yards and 15 touchdowns last season working behind a line that was ravaged by injuries. He has a trio of big-play receivers in 6-5 senior Blake Kelley, senior Mason Bigelow and junior Chris “Tic” Ellison. Robert Tovar and Soto also will be used the passing game. At running back, speedy senior Sean Babcock is healthy and running hard after an injury-plagued junior year and senior Isai Figueroa returns after starting last season. Second-team all-league player Andy Lopez returns to lead the new and improved offensive line. The unit is strengthened by a group of players coming off a successful JV team. “They won a lot of ball games the last two years,” said coach J.T. Stone. “We’re excited to get the running game going this year in a way I know we can.” In addition to Lopez (6-0, 225), the O-line includes juniors Edwin Rivera (6-0, 230), Daniel Rivera (6-1, 250) and Emmett Rees (5-10, 200). On defense, the Dons are loaded at linebacker with returnees Junior Garcia, Angel Garcia and Soto and newcomers Tovar and Colton Takis. Freddy Zavala anchors the defensive line. Donavan Zavaleta and Nick Renfroe hold down the cornerback spots in the defensive backfield.