Ty Montgomery, Santa Barbara High’s man for all seasons, isn’t used to having no season at all.
“It’s pretty annoying,” he said of the pandemic that has delayed the start of all high school sports. “We have to roll with the punches. It’s just our reality right now.”
Montgomery played in both the offensive and defensive backfields as a junior for last year’s 11-3, Channel League champion Dons. He rushed for 528 yards and six touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for 141 yards and another TD.
He also kicked on special teams, booting six field goals and 45 conversions to compile a team-high 105 points. The Channel League coaches recognized his versatility by voting him as the conference’s Utility Player of the Year.
“I ask Ty to do a lot,” Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone said. “He does not come off the field.”
Montgomery, the son of Dennis and Cori Montgomery, does switch fields. He moved to the baseball diamond last spring to play outfield for the Dons’ defending league champions.
“I’m pretty much go-go-go all the time — pretty much pedal to the medal,” he said. “I’ve got to be the same person in all sports, and that’s to give it my all the whole game, every game.”
At this time last year, the Dons were preparing for their CIF-Southern Section football playoff opener against Gahr. They took an eight-game winning streak all the way to the Division 8 final before losing a 24-21 heartbreaker to No. 1 Sunny Hills.
Montgomery was on the brink of more glory with Santa Barbara’s baseball team. The Dons had a win-loss record of 5-1 when they battled rival San Marcos to a 1-1 tie. The game was suspended by darkness, and the season was suspended by the coronavirus just a few days later.
“That was super-crushing,” Montgomery said. “We had really good possibilities, we were doing something great. All the seniors had high hopes and I had high hopes. And then we had them crushed.”
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic hit home again last week when a Santa Barbara High athlete tested positive for the coronavirus. Although the athlete and even his sport were not named, the school placed the athlete, his pod of practice cohorts, and their coach into a 14-day quarantine.
“It really did put a realization into a lot of players’ attitudes,” Montgomery said. “We’re showing up to practice every day, getting questioned and having our temperatures taken, but it was a real wake-up call when one of us actually ended up getting it.”
The only baseball he’s played since last spring is an occasional game of catch.
“I’ve been football, fulltime, ever since baseball season,” he said.
Montgomery, a 5-foot-10 and 185-pound senior, has tried to sew a silver lining into the delay of fall sports.
“I am excited about getting the time to get bigger and stronger,” he said. “I’d rather be playing right now, but I’m just taking what I can get.
“I’ve been working out with friends who have weights and have gone to a couple of gyms to work out with other friends. I’m watching all the film I can get, too.
“When you’re given all this time, you might as well prepare as much as you can.”
The Dons’ football opener against St. Joseph is scheduled for Jan. 8 in the grand reopening of Peabody Stadium. School officials say the $39 million reconstruction is a week away from completion.
The new stadium will showcase plenty of old stars. Also back for Santa Barbara is quarterback Deacon Hill, a University of Wisconsin commit who won last season’s Channel League Offensive Player of the Year Award, and nose guard Noach Wood, the Defensive Player of the Year.
Montgomery also forecasts big seasons for such veterans as receivers Jake Knecht and Anthony Loza, running back-linebacker Justin Perez, and linebacker Vince Gamberdella.
He’s high on several of last year’s junior varsity players, as well, including running back Nate Barrios, linebacker Julian Castro, and receivers Miguel Unzueta and Trent Williams.
“They’ve all put in a lot of work,” he said. “We are missing some important players from last year’s defense — those linebackers and a D lineman — but they all did a great job of teaching the guys who’ll be filling their spots.
“I’m very confident that we’re going to have a great season.”
If Santa Barbara makes the playoffs as expected, its first-round game will be on March 19. That’s also the new opening day for the high school baseball season. The possible overlap is something that Montgomery hasn’t yet considered.
“I love both sports the same, I don’t really have a No. 1,” he said. “Luckily, both of my coaches encourage our playing multiple sports.”
Montgomery’s father played baseball and football at Dos Pueblos High School and later returned to the school as a coach.
“He coached me at DP when I was a freshman,” said Stone, who was a record-setting quarterback for the Chargers in the mid-1990s. “This is a very special community that way, where people come back to support our sports.”
Dennis Montgomery, who was also his son’s youth coach, is torn between the two sports, as well.
“He loves both,” Ty said, “and he tells me to just play until you have a reason not to play.”
All he needs now is a season to play.