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Football

Friday Night Lights (Early Edition): Previews & Predictions of Week 10 Games

CIF playoff berth, city title on the line in Dos Pueblos-Santa Barbara clash

David Leon Click to view larger
Quarterback David Leon has been a gladiator for the Dos Pueblos football team, says coach Doug Caines. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

It’s come down to this in Thursday’s Channel League football finale between Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara High: Win and you’re in.

An automatic CIF playoff spot is on the line in this crosstown showdown at San Marcos’ Warkentin Stadium.  The City Championship is also at stake.

Going into the game, Dos Pueblos sits in second place in the league standings at 3-1 while Santa Barbara is 2-2 and tied for third with Santa Ynez.

A Dos Pueblos victory gives the Chargers second place alone and the league’s No. 2 automatic playoff spot.

A Santa Barbara win would create a tie for second — a two-way tie with DP, or a three-way if Santa Ynez beats San Marcos on Friday night.

In the case of deadlock, Santa Barbara would be the league’s No. 2 team and Dos Pueblos the No. 3 team, based on the league’s tie-breaking format — the teams drew numbers and Santa Barbara came in third and Dos Pueblos fourth. Santa Ynez was sixth while Cabrillo and Lompoc claimed the first two spots.

Lompoc can wrap up an unbeaten championship in its first year in the Channel League by beating Cabrillo on Friday night.

There is no guaranteed playoff berth for the Channel League's third-place team, but with fewer teams in the playoff divisions of the three contenders the chances of receiving at-large bids in the 16-team playoff brackets appear promising.

Dos Pueblos is in playoff Division 5, where there are 22 teams contending for 16 spots. Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez are in Division 7, where there are 24 teams.

The CIF playoff draw is on Sunday.

Santa Barbara won’t have senior Frankie Gamberdella at quarterback (broken collarbone), but the Dons’ offense is in capable hands with sophomore Deacon Hill calling the signals. He started against Lompoc and played most of the Cabrillo game after Gamberdella suffered his injury.

While not as mobile and fleet-footed as Gamberdella, Hill can make plays. He has a big-time passing arm.

“Deacon is a student of the game, so we are confident in his ability to lead the offense,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone said. “He got quality game reps against Lompoc and Cabrillo.”

Santa Barbara’s defense will be challenged by a DP attack that is running on all cylinders.

Quarterback David Leon has been masterful running the Chargers’ smash-mouth offense.

“It’s not cute, it’s not sexy, it’s not front-page news,” DP coach Doug Caines said about his pound-the-ball attack.  “It’s ugly, it’s tough, it’s gladiator football and I love it. The kids have embraced it.”

The Chargers will attack with Leon, Eric Lopez, Brandon Miguel, Udy Loza and Conner Lee running behind a physical offensive line led by Angel Flores and Sunny Graybill. Lee had a breakout game at Santa Ynez last Friday, rushing for 136 yards on five carries. 

Leon has consistently made big plays running the ball to keep drives going. And last week he completed some clutch passes in a 35-28 win over Santa Ynez.

Caines feels his team is reaching its prime time.

"It's week 10 and we definitely have been playing better each game over the last few weeks," he said. "We would like to keep that momentum rolling."

The Chargers have received clutch performances from several players off the bench in recent games.

“Our mantra has been the African proverb: ‘In order to go far, we need everybody. If you want to go fast, you go by yourself,’” said Caines after the win at Santa Ynez.

He’s especially proud of how the team has forged its own identity after last year’s team went to the CIF Finals.

“We were supposed to rebuild and we absolutely said that was not the tale of this team,” said Caines.

The prospect of receiving a CIF playoff berth remains in the cards for Bishop Diego.

The Cardinals play at Thousand Oaks in their Camino League finale on Friday.

The Cardinals are 0-3 in league and 3-6 overall, with all six losses coming against teams ranked in the CIF polls.

Bishop is in Division 4, where there are 19 schools vying for 16 spots in the bracket.

“I do believe a win on Friday would give us a good chance of making the playoffs, although there are three additional teams who could end up with identical records and fighting for those last couple playoff spots,” Bishop coach Tom Crawford said. “But our strength of schedule is rated higher than 13 of the 19 teams in our division and I believe that strength of schedule is one factor considered by the playoff committee in looking at at-large playoff teams so a win on Friday gives us a chance.

“Of course, the only thing we control at this point is how we prepare and play on Friday so that is our focus at this point.”

Here is a look at this weekend’s final regular-season games:

Thursday

Dos Pueblos (6-3, 3-1) vs. Santa Barbara (5-4, 2-2) at San Marcos, 7 p.m. — If Dos Pueblos can limit the big passing plays by Santa Barbara, it should prevail. The Pick: Dos Pueblos

Friday

Santa Ynez (5-4, 2-2) at San Marcos (2-7, 1-3), 7 p.m. — The Pirates need a win to have a shot at an at-large playoff spot in Division 7. San Marcos will be facing a solid defensive team. The Pick:  Santa Ynez.

Bishop Diego (0-3, 3-6) at Thousand Oaks (0-9, 0-3), 7 p.m. — The Cardinals have made the playoffs eight straight years. With their strength of schedule, a victory in the Camino League gives them a good shot at making the Division 4 playoffs as an at-large team. The Pick: Bishop Diego

Carpinteria (4-5, 2-3) at Nordhoff (7-2, 4-1), 7 p.m. — The Warriors need a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Nordhoff has already clinched second place in the Citrus Coast League and a playoff berth. Will Collins makes his first start at quarterback for Carpinteria. The Pick: Nordhoff.

Lompoc (7-2, 4-0) at Cabrillo (0-9, 0-4), 7 p.m. —  With the CIF playoffs a week away, the Braves are peaking at the right time. The Pick: Lompoc.

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