SBART Press Luncheon: Pranksters are out before big games

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Bishop Diego assistant coach Steve Robles brought, from left, Mike Soracco, Julian Tico and Roy Hageman to Monday’s Round Table press luncheon.

Pranksters struck Santa Barbara High over the weekend with spray paint and chickens.

Chickens?

“They let chickens in the hallways and in the principal’s office,” Santa Barbara High girls volleyball coach John Gannon said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café. “There was bird poop all over our principal’s office and the principal secretary’s office.”

The pranksters also painted DP and SM on the walls at the school.

The Dons have two important rivalry games on Tuesday against Dos Pueblos in girls volleyball and San Marcos in boys water polo.

Gannon is using the pranks to motivate his team.

“We play DP (Tuesday) for a playoff spot and I’m telling the girls it was DP,” he said. His message to the team: “DP did this and we got to take revenge on DP.”

Gannon praised Peyton Moropoulos and Bella Gniadek for having great attitudes. He said Moropoulos is always positive and plays aggressive. “She swings hard and goes for it.”

Gniadek is an all-around athlete who has come into her own as a setter.

FOOTBALL
Santa Barbara: A CIF playoff berth is on the line when the Dons play Buena in a Channel League football game Friday night at Peabody Stadium.

“Our game Friday is a big one,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone said. “If we win, we’re in. Our approach in practice this week is mental focus. We understand the task at hand and we’ll be prepared.”

The Dons (5-3, 1-1)were well-prepared last Friday when they beat Dos Pueblos, 35-14. “We had that nasty taste in our mouth from the Ventura game (a 28-24 loss). Our kids came out and played hard, did exactly what we wanted them to do and we came out victorious. Now our plans are to look for Buena.”

Stone introduced Donovan Zavaleta and Henry Hepp. He said Zavaleta is short in stature but is “by far the most competitive kid on my football team.” Zavaleta is a kick returner, defensive back and receiver.

Hepp is a sophomore linebacker that Stone got from the water polo program. “I was able to get him out of the water,” he said.

Bishop Diego: Long-time assistant coach Steve Robles said running back Mike Soracco brings 100 percent commitment to practice and carries it into the games.

“What you see in practice is what you see in games,” he said. Soracco rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-20 win over Immanuel of Reedley, the No. 1-ranked team in its division in the Central Section.

Robles also introduced center Roy Hageman and defensive end Julian Tico, saying both players have paid their dues and have become impact players.

The Cardinals (7-0) open Tri-Valley League Friday at Fillmore.

Cate: Assistant coach Dave Soto said a comment on a Web site about 8-man high school football called the Condor League the SEC of 8-man football.

In the latest CIF Division 1 rankings, four teams: Cate, Laguna Blanca, Thacher and Villanova Prep are in the top 10. No. 3 Cate (6-0) hosts No. 10 Villanova on Family Weekend on Saturday.

Soto called this year’s team the most cohesive unit he’s seen. “You coaches know once the bonding process happens it makes everything much more fun and makes things a lot easier,” he said.

SBCC: Coach Craig Moropoulos was stilling feeling the sting from Saturday’s 28-27 loss to L.A.Valley.

“The Round Table is always good about getting me out of the doldrums; everyone is always positive and I appreciate that. But all due respect to the Round Table, it’s not working for me. That (loss) was hard to take.”

The Vaqueros missed an extra point, had a punt blocked, an interception returned for a touchdown and missed a short field goal with 10 seconds left that would have won the game.

The fact the Vaqueros battled to the end pleased Moropoulos.

“I’m proud of our guys, we never gave up,” he said.

He praised the defense, which held a Valley team that was averaging over 40 points a game to 21 points. Linebackers Daniel Collins and Thomas Hopp turned in strong performances in the game, the coach noted.

Laguna Blanca: Coach Shane Lopes had some fun with the comment about the Condor League being called the SEC of 8-man football.

“I coach at Laguna, we’re also in the Condor League and if that makes us the SEC than I’m must be Nick Saban,” he cracked. “So I’ll take it and appreciate it. Alabama is sitting second in the SEC and we’re below Cate right now.”

Lopes introduced senior John Puzder, one of the freshman players who started four years ago when only 15 players were on the team.

Sophomore Aidan O’Donnell “is as coachable as they come,” Lopes said of the multi-purpose player

The Owls are 6-0 and 2-0 in Condor League play.

“We know we still have a lot to prove,” Lopes said. “We’re 6-0, but the record doesn’t mean anything; we’re just focused on Thacher.”

Laguna Blanca plays at Thacher on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

San Marcos: In describing the slow start of his football team in last Friday’s loss to Ventura, coach Anthony Linebaugh said: “We’re like the pitcher that had that bad first inning and can’t get things to go is way. That’s kind of been us. We had a tough first quarter against Ventura and that set the tone. We dug a hole that we struggled to get out of.”

On the positive side, Linebaugh praised Hugo “Hugs” Ronces for his all-around play and Luke Pollock for filling in for injured starting quarterback D’Shaun Vines. Pollock made his first varsity start at quarterback and “showed poise beyond his years,” Linebaugh said. “He had fun out there, made good decisions and was careful with the ball.”

The Royals (2-6, 0-1) play Dos Pueblos on Friday for Goleta Valley bragging rights.

Carpinteria: The Warriors have rushed for more than 300 yards in their last two games (both wins) and a big reason has been the play of offensive linemen Lalo Lozano and Nico Garcia, said assistant coach Rick Candaele.

Carpinteria (2-5) opens Tri-Valley League play on Friday at Nordhoff.

“We start our ‘baseball playoffs,’ best of three,” said Candaele

VOLLEYBALL
Laguna Blanca: With the Owls being the dominant team in the Condor League, coach and athletic director Jason Donnelly scheduled matches against teams like Santa Barbara High and Dos Pueblos to better prepare his team for the postseason.

“There is just a different level of play in our league versus where we are, so we have to step out of our league to prepare for what we feel is gong to be a fun run in November,” Donnelly explained.

Dos Pueblos visited Laguna’s Merovick Gym last week and beat the Owls in four games.

“It was really a fun night,” Donnelly said. “We had them on ropes. We’re learning how to seize momentum and keep it.”

He introduced outside hitters Emily Lafitte and Caylin Zimmerman. Lafitte had a strong serving match in a sweep against Providence on Saturday that clinched first place in the league. On Zimmerman, “she is playing a big role for a young kid,” Donnelly said of the sophomore.

The Owls play Besant Hill, Viewpoint and Cate this week.

Bishop Diego: Coach John Sener said his team is playing better and he’s looking forward to finishing the season strong. He introduced assistant coach Katie Chow and thanked her for all her hard work.

Sener brought middles Tiana Molony and Evie Coronado and said both players have worked hard to improve their games.

TENNIS

UCSB men: Coach Marty Davis said he has the 15th best recruiting class in the nation and his looking forward to improving on its No. 54 national ranking from last season.

Santa Barbara High: First-year coach Sally Becker gave a run down on her top players. Cade Sorensen hasn’t dropped a set in the month of October and has lost only one game.

The doubles team of Eva Kershner and Alexia Berton has lost only one set since becoming a team on Sept. 18. The duo of Hope Dalton and Brooke Morison has lost just three sets since September.

“The two doubles teams are the backbone of our team,” said Becker.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Anita Patton said the doubles team of KC Egger and Saylor Yoos played some of the best tennis of the season against Division 1 top-10 opponents Dana Hills and Mira Costa over the weekend.

She noted that No. 1 singles player Katie Yang plays with great determination. Yang and Egger are expected to combine for the Channel League Individual Tournament. They were finalist last year and champions in 2013.

UCSB Women: The Gauchos had one doubles team reach the semifinals of the ITA Southwest Regionals in San Diego and a singles player advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in 15 years, said assistant coach Erica Cano.

Laguna Blanca: Coach Rob Cowell said Grace MacNeil has played well at No. 1 singles. Last year, she played at No. 3 and posted the best record on the team. “She’s a tenacious athlete and a valuable asset to any coach.”

He called Nicole Belton his “secret weapon” because he can play her anywhere in the lineup and get results. The Owls play three matches this week against Bishop Diego, Villanova Prep and Thacher. “That’s intense for us,” said Cowell.

Carpinteria: Madison Cleek and Jeanette Fantone lead the Warriors into a big match against Malibu that will determine a CIF playoff berth in the Frontier League.

San Marcos: JV coach Andrea Rifkin said it’s been a “wonderful year to coach” at San Marcos. The Royals varsity and junior varsity both went undefeated in Channel League. She introduced JV player Gaby Goldberg.

Westmont: Lauren Stratman finished fourth in singles at the ITA National Championships and placed fifth in doubles with partner Isabelle Lee.

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