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Friday Night Lights: Dons, Royals Line Up for 58th Big Game

Santa Barbara (3-3, 0-0) at San Marcos (1-6, 0-1), Radio: 1290 AM, 7 p.m. — The Dons open Channel League against their crosstown rivals in the 58th Big Game (Santa Barbara leads the series 33-24). Santa Barbara has had two weeks to prepare for this game after having a bye last Friday. The Dons’ running game, with Jeremiah Phillips and Kris Ramirez, showed great improvement in their last game against Pacifica (a 20-7 win). That will make things doubly tough for the San Marcos defense, which already has to deal with the potent passing attack, led by quarterback Frankie Gamberdella. “We know they are going to come out and play hard,” Dons coach JT Stone said of the Royals. “Their quarterback is back and healthy, so we expect them to come out fully loaded and ready to go. We are focused and understand that the league title is up for grabs and any team in our league can win it.”

The Dons can expect to see a fired up Royals squad, which got off to a bad start in league last week at Buena (a 42-0 loss). Quarterback Jacob Villarreal makes his second start since fracturing his left elbow in Week 1. That should help improve his timing with standout receiver Luis Mesino. The Royals also have a solid running back in Tommy Schaeffer, and their return game is dangerous with Mesino. “Santa Barbara is playing at a high level in the passing game, running the ball effectively, and very aggressive to the point of attack on defense,” San Marcos coach Jason Fowle said. “It is going to take great teamwork, communication, effort and execution; we need to protect the football on offense, take advantage of scoring opportunities, generate turnovers on defense, and win the field position game on special teams.  We need to focus on playing to our highest capabilities each and every play. If we can do all that then we will put ourselves in position to be successful.

Santa Barbara’s defense should make the difference in this game. Middle linebacker Henry Hepp and defensive back Natani Drati are having outstanding seasons. The Pick: Santa Barbara


Trinity Classical (2-4) at Carpinteria (3-3), 7:30 p.m. — Carpinteria celebrates Homecoming with its last game before the start of Frontier League play. The Warriors are coming off an impressive 30-14 win over Santa Paula. Expect them to keep rolling against a team that has struggled to run the football. The Pick: Carpinteria.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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