Friday Night Lights: SB-Buena has playoff implications

The “Big Game” against San Marcos isn’t for another two weeks for Santa Barbara High’s football team.

Friday night, however, is a “Bigger Game” for the Dons in terms of their playoff future. They take on Buena in what could be the final game before the wrecking ball begins tearing down Peabody Stadium.

Santa Barbara hopes to get another game at the venerable stadium. A victory over the Bulldogs would help its cause. The Dons can all but cinch second place in the Channel League and a CIF playoff berth with a win on Friday. A victory also would keep them in the hunt for a share of the league title.

The Dons are 1-1 in league (5-3 overall) after beating Dos Pueblos, 35-14, on “Carmageddon Friday” last week in town. Buena is 1-0 (5-2 overall) after a win over DP two weeks ago; the Bulldogs had a bye last.

“If we win, we’re in,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone declared about the importance of the game. “We understand the task at hand, and our kids will be prepared.”

The Dons have to prepare for slick senior quarterback Martin Mijares. He’s developed into a fine leader and playmaker under Buena coach Tim Gutierrez. In a 24-14 win over DP, Mijares completed 21 of 25 passes for 254 yards. His favorite receiver is Mason Beling, who caught 10 passes in that game. Juan Gayton is the Bulldogs’ leading rusher.

Besides DP, Santa Barbara and Buena have three other common opponents: Royal, Pacifica and Rio Mesa. The Bulldogs beat Royal, 23-20, and the Dons lost to the Highlanders, 37-28; against Pacifica, Buena fell, 17-14, in overtime, while Santa Barbara rallied for a 27-20 victory; the Dons fell short against Rio Mesa, 47-45, while the Bulldogs pulled out a 31-25 decision.

Santa Barbara did a good job mixing up its attack last week. Sean Babcock had a solid night running the ball against DP and Peus threw for 259 yards and four touchdowns. Mason Bigelow was his big target with 11 receptions.

The Dons’ defense forced four turnovers, including a fumble in the red zone. They’ll need a similar performance on Friday. The Pick: Santa Barbara

San Marcos (1-6, 0-1) at Dos Pueblos (2-6, 0-2), 7 p.m.
— It’s the battle for Goleta Valley bragging rights, so throw out the records. San Marcos’ defense will have to step up to slow down the Chargers’ up-tempo offense, led by DP quarterback Kellen Roberts and the hard-running Manny Nwosu. DP gave Santa Barbara battle but it shot itself in the foot with turnovers and untimely penalties. San Marcos fell behind early against Ventura and never recovered. The Royals will have quarterback D’Shaun Vines back in the lineup and running back Ivan Reyes is healthy again. If the Royals can get them going early, it will be game on. The Pick: Dos Pueblos

Bishop Diego (7-0 0-0) at Fillmore (0-7, 0-0), 7 p.m. — It’s the Tri-Valley League opener and the Cardinals are the heavy favorites here. They are coming off an impressive 43-20 win against Immanuel of Reedley, the top Division 5 team in the CIF Central Section. Mike Soracco has given Bishop a huge boost at running back, which doesn’t bode well for a Fillmore defense that gave up 291 points in its pre-league games. The Pick: Bishop Diego.

Carpinteria (2-5, 0-0) at Nordhoff (1-6, 0-0), 7 p.m. — The Warriors open league against a team they haven’t beat since 2008. Senior Jimmy Graves is running Carpinteria’s offense, which has scored 96 points in its last two games. Nordhoff has played a brutally tough schedule, facing Oak Park, Lompoc, North Torrance and Sierra Canyon. The Rangers are the defending league champions and playing at home, but Carpinteria has found its rhythm and is riding high going into the league opener on a two-game winning streak. The Pick: Carpinteria

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