Rivalry Week for high school sports kicked off on Monday with a tribute to Joby Nunez, a coach and administrator whose service transcended all three of the area’s major public high schools.
Nunez, who had been a star football player at Santa Barbara High, Oregon State, and UCSB during the 1960s and early 1970s, passed away Jan. 20 at age 70.
“Joby coached at all three schools and started the Dos Pueblos soccer program,” Ken Newendorp, vice-president of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, said during Monday’s weekly press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café. “He was an administrator and dedicated his life to athletics and helping young people grow.”
Chucky Roth, San Marcos High’s water polo and swim coach, witnessed that first-hand after the late Jeff Hesselmeyer – Nunez’s long-time friend and the Royals’ football coach at the time – broke his leg.
“It was quite traumatic because he couldn’t drive a car,” Roth recalled. “So Joby Nunez picked him up every single day and brought him to San Marcos. And then he came in about football time and helped coach the kids, every single day.
“This is a guy who’s a DP teacher, coach, and retired administrator, and here he is, helping his friend every single day. He didn’t just stop there. He would go, ‘Coach Hess, I’ve got to help you with your guys (with their grades).’ He was a friend, he was a supporter, he was a confidant.”
San Marcos’ shot at a Channel League championship, buoyed with last week’s wins over Dos Pueblos and Santa Ynez, comes into full focus tonight when it plays host to first-place Santa Barbara. The play of guards Tommy Condon, this week’s Round Table Male Athlete of the Week, and sophomore Isaiah Hicks, was instrumental in their win over DP.
“These were two of the guys that we challenged on the defensive end against their guard, (Jaron) Rillie,” coach Jelani Hicks said. “That’s why they’re here.
“Hopefully, these two games prepare us for the biggest game of the season to this point.”
Bishop Diego has been growing up fast with one of the youngest lineups in CIF-Southern Section basketball. Coach James Coronado introduced sophomore Connor Streett, and freshmen Kai Morphy and Marcus Chan as three players who “model the consistency and the progressing and the striving to get better every single day as best they could … The future looks bright for us, and I’m excited.”
Carpinteria’s Lucy Carleton brought two of the players that coach Corey Adam said “do his dirty work: Luke Nakasone and David Serrano.”
Nakasone has been a sturdy rebounder and mid-range jump shooter, she said, while Serrano has “been willing to get on the floor and get the extra possessions for them.”
San Marcos also plays host to a first-place showdown in boys soccer with Wednesday’s 5 p.m. game at Warkentin Stadium. Matt Hislop has helped spur the Royals to the top of the standings since his conversion from a defender into an attacker.
“Matt’s creativity up front has been a fantastic source of both energy,” coach Paul McLean said. “He’s created a lot of goals for other players and for himself.”
Carpinteria is playoff-bound with players such as Adrian Gonzalez, who has returned to his original position of goalkeeper, and offensive standout Luke Nahooikaika-Anderson.
“Coach (Leo Quintero) says Adrian has incredible poise when he straps on his gloves,” Carleton said. “Luke scored what his coach said were the two most important goals of the season.”
Injuries are a big reason why Carpinteria will be missing the girls playoffs for the first time in several years. Carleton is excited about the future, however, with next year’s return of midfielders Erika Estrada and Emily Montoya.
“They’re both juniors, and it’s fabulous that they’re both going to be back next year with other people,” she said. “Erika will have been on varsity for all four years and she has amazing service of the ball (that are like) Christmas and birthday presents.
“Emily is going to take the blame for our 2-1 loss against Nordhoff … because Emily got injured. She almost ruptured her tendon.”
Santa Barbara’s girls will play at San Marcos on Wednesday in the 7 p.m. nightcap of a Channel League doubleheader with the boys. The Dons swept their two local rivals two weeks ago.
Coach Silas Fallstich likes his chances this week thanks to his two luncheon guests on Monday: “I brought my two senior captains, Talia Zampese, who plays left back for us, and Lauren Garnett.”
Garnett keyed the 3-1 win over Dos Pueblos by scoring what Fallstich described as “a screamer.”
Westmont College’s women, ranked 14th in the NAIA, survived a lackluster effort versus Ottawa, Ariz. before turning it around with a win over powerful Arizona Christian.
“We’re going to need to keep that momentum going because we head out on a road trip up to the Bay Area to play Menlo and William Jessup,” coach Kirsten Moore said. “Both of those teams are one game behind us in conference. There are six teams that can still win a GSAC championship with seven games left to play. Every game matters.”
Westmont men’s coach John Moore noted that his Warriors, who are coming off a win over No. 21 Arizona Christian, are in the same boat as the women.
“We’re a team that is progressing,” he said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Max Hudgins led them that way with career-high totals of 27 points and five steals against Arizona Christian.
“He hadn’t had five steals in any five practices – that was just inspirational to his teammates,” said Moore, who appointed Hudgins this week to join Olisa Nwachie as the team’s co-captains.
GIRLS WATER POLO
Dos Pueblos, coming off a third-place finish at the prestigious So Cal Championships, was seeded No. 1 for the Channel League Tournament which begins today in Lompoc. Three players have helped elevate the Chargers into the elite of high school water polo: junior goalkeeper Anna Cable, as well as Division 1-bound seniors Sophie Leggett (Cal) and Abbi Hill (UCLA).
“Every meaningful game since I was hired in 2017, Anna has been our goalkeeper,” coach Connor Levoff said. “That experience is paying off in spades.”
Leggett and Hill have both recovered from major injuries.
“Sophie had a rather catastrophic shoulder injury that, because of her grit and resiliency, she tried to play through for nearly a year,” Levoff said. “She finally went under the knife and we’re finally reaping the results of her getting healthy. She won all-tournament honors at the So Cal Tournament this week.
“Abbi had an unlucky injury that had nothing to do with water polo. She sat out our first 15 games. She’s finally played her way back into shape and has put together some great performances this weekend. She was another all-tournament player for us.”
San Marcos, which took fifth at the So Cal Championships, has a bright future, as well, with freshmen such as Brooke Ingram.
“This is somebody who, in the next few years, will make a big impact in our community and big impact on our program, which she is already doing,” Roth said. “She’s a straight-A student, center-defender for us, and just does as great job.”
Santa Barbara, which finished 14th at the So Cal Championships, is looking to rebound with today’s Channel League Tournament match against San Marcos.
“We’ve got a smallish team, and we’re a little banged up and sick,” coach Mark Walsh said. “The main thing for us is to get healthy.”
WOMEN’S WATER POLO
UCSB is 4-1 after a good showing in its own Winter Invite, losing only to UCLA in a match that was tied entering the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Mollie Simmons, who is a quadruplet, is a blazing fast swimmer with a strong outside shot, coach Serela Kay said.
“One of her quadruplet (sisters) is the manager on our team – she’s actually a ballet dancer and doesn’t play water polo, but she travels with us and films games,” Kay said. “We’re so lucky to have both of them as part of our program. They’re both very selfless.
“In the water, Mollie won 98 percent of her sprints last year. So far this year, I’m giving her 100 percent, even though there was one sprint against UCLA that ended up being a jump ball.”