SBART Luncheon: It’s that time of the season for Laguna Blanca volleyball team

Brent Peus of Santa Barbara High receives the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Trophy from award sponsor Mike Rabe

Brent Peus of Santa Barbara High receives the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Trophy from award sponsor Chris Rabe.

It’s playoff time for high school fall sports team, so that was the main topic of discussion at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

Laguna Blanca girls volleyball coach Jason Donnelly said his squad has “been preparing for November since Aug. 17.”

The Owls have been the dominant program in the Condor League. “In our position, because our league is so weak, we weren’t worried about making the playoffs. We worry about what we can do in the playoffs,” Donnelly said. “I think our girls, all of whom lost in the first round last year, have completely bought into not only the physical but the mental aspect of what we’re trying to do as a volleyball program.”

Donnelly introduced setter Kelly Bickett and middle attacker Laurel Kujan, two sophomores who have played key roles in the team’s success. He said the left-handed Bickett is a fiery competitor and Kujan is a phenomenal athlete who’s developed into a big-time weapon in the middle.

The Owls open the 4AA playoffs at home against Milken Community.

“I don’t know anything about them,” Donnelly said. “We’re just concerned about our side of the net. Our girls have a bitter taste from losing in the first round last year. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to let that happen again.”

Carpinteria: Assistant coach Rick Candaele said the Warriors are excited to be in the playoffs. They open at Antelope Valley in their Northern Division debut.

Candaele, a former assistant at Lompoc High, said he was talking with former Lompoc coach Mike Warren about Carpinteria’s playoff draw. The two were dreaming big. “If we beat Antelope Valley, Arroyo Grande and Thousand Oaks, then we’ll meet Lompoc in the semifinals,” he said with a smile. “So, we got quite a chore ahead of us.”

On playing in the Northern Division, Candaele said, “it looks like the NFL Division – Not For Long.”

Candaele introduced Brandon Lopez and Memo Tavira, two players who make him proud to be a high school football coach. Lopez is a defensive lineman from Mexico who had never played football. He makes it a point to thank Candaele after every practice and after he comes out of a game. Memo Tavira is a deaf player who’s played four years of football for the Warriors.

“I don’t think Memo has missed a day of football in four years,”Candaele said. “I think that’s the kind of experience that makes coaching football a wonderful experience and why I keep staying in it. I look forward to more.”

On facing Antelope Valley, Candaele said, “The last time I saw Antelope Valley was 1978 at Lompoc.  I never thought Carpinteria would be playing Antelope Valley. It’s exciting.”

Santa Barbara: The Dons were left out of the playoffs, but coach JT Stone didn’t want to harp on the negative.

“Saturday morning was tough for our program, tough for our coaches and tough for our players,” he admitted. “I think after 6-7 hours in, I said, ‘Let’s flip this, let’s turn this into a positive.’ I’m very happy with our football program. We went 6-4 and our freshman went 10-0. With our juniors, we have great pieces to the puzzle. We’re going to be a very good football team.”

Santa Barbara High quarterback Brent Peus threw five TD passes in the Big Game.

Santa Barbara High quarterback Brent Peus threw five TD passes in the Big Game.

On the playoffs: “We know one of the best teams that’s supposed to play is not there,” he said. “Next year, we’re going to make sure we control our own destiny.”

Stone thanked his senior class. “They left a lasting mark on our football program.”

Senior quarterback Brent Peus was presented the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Trophy by Chris Rabe, who started the award to honor his friend.

Peus threw for 288 yards and five touchdowns in a 37-0 win over San Marcos in the 56th Big Game.

“This is the one time of the year I’m handing out something that someone wants to receive,” said Rabe, who is retiring from UCSB’s parking enforcement department after 30 years. “I’ve been yelled at more than some referees.”

Bishop Diego: The Cardinals drew Newbury Park in their Northern Division playoff opener on Friday at La Playa Stadium.

Athletic director Dan Peeters said he’s viewed film of the Panthers and is impressed. “I watched their last four games and they’re very good,” he said. “They lost by one to Thousand Oaks. I’m coding the Westlake game; with three minutes to go in the third quarter they’re ahead of Westlake and driving. So, I took a picture of that and sent it to my coaches with emojis.”

Peeters said the Cardinals are preparing to be successful. He read a statement from head football coach Tom Crawford about the upcoming playoff game.

“Newbury Park is formidable and will roll out their 65-man roster with confidence,” he reported. “They only lost to TO by one on Friday and lost to (No. 1) Camarillo in a competitive game. We have to be at our best to have a chance to defeat them. We are excited about the challenge.”

Peeters introduced backup quarterback David Gladish and receiver/defensive back Austin Bohnett.

Laguna Blanca: The Owls won their first-round 8-man football playoff game and now take a trip to Catalina Island to play Avalon in the second round.

The team will leave Thursday afternoon by boat and play Friday evening.

“We wish to keep this thing going,” said coach Shane Lopes of the playoffs.

SBCC: Despite losing to undefeated Santa Monica, coach Craig Moropoulos saw a lot of positives from his team. He cited the play of defensive lineman Lordes Jones and wide receiver Jason-Matthew Sharsh.

SBCC concludes its season Saturday at Glendale. “It’s our Bowl Week in trying to get to .500,” said Moropoulos.

UCSB: Assistant coach Brandon Veltri said the Gauchos return 11 of their 13 scholarship players from last year. The two absences are big ones: Alan Williams and Zalmico Harmon. Williams is playing professionally in China and Zalmico recently signed with a team in Mexico.

“We have some big shoes to fill but we feel we have some capable young men that are up to the task,” said Veltri.

Among the returnees are Michael Bryson, a preseason All-Big West pick; John Green, who was honorable mention all conference last season, and Gabe Vincent, the Freshman of the Year in the conference.

“We should be a deep team, really athletic and our style of play will be faster.” Veltri said.

The Gauchos open the season Friday at Nebrasaka-Omaha and then play at Cal on Monday.

UCSB men: The Gauchos play host to UC Davis in a Big West Tournament semifinal game on Wednesday. The winner faces the winner of the Cal Poly-Cal State Fullerton match for the title and automatic NCAA berth on Saturday.

San Marcos: Edwin Portillo introduced himself as the new girls coach for the Royals. He brought team captains Tasha Wood and Allison Bliss.

Daniel Torres is the new boys coach at San Marcos after previous stints at Carpinteria and Laguna Blanca. He guided both of those programs to a CIF final. Torres introduced captain Andy Mandrell, a second-team all-league pick last year, and talented newcomer sophomore Oscar Perez.

Carpinteria: Assistant coach Lucy Carleton said Megan Durflinger and Jessica Meza are the only seniors on the Warriors squad. They graduated 11 seniors last year.