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Friday Night Lights: Preview & Predictions of Week 6 Games

Santa Barbara’s defense will have its hands full trying to contain San Marcos running back Tommy Schaefer. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara’s defense will have its hands full trying to contain San Marcos running back Tommy Schaefer. (Noozhawk file photo)

The new Channel League opens Friday night with a pair of old rivalries.

Santa Barbara High and San Marcos meet for the 59th crosstown Big Game at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium, while up north, Santa Ynez travels to Lompoc for a match-up between longtime title contenders from the old Los Padres League.

The third league opener pits Cabrillo against Dos Pueblos at San Marcos High.

Carpinteria plays its third game in the Citrus Coast League, and it’s an important one in the Warriors’ quest to win the title. They play at unbeaten Santa Paula.

On Saturday, Bishop Diego plays its first game in the Camino League against Grace Brethren at La Playa Stadium.

The two teams played in an epic overtime battle for the Tri-Valley League title last year, which was won by Grace Brethren. The teams would go on to win CIF-Southern Section division titles and play in state championship games. 

Santa Barbara (3-2) and San Marcos (1-4) enter the Big Game coming off bye weeks. 

San Marcos picked up some momentum going into the break by getting a shutout against Channel Islands, 21-0.

Santa Barbara, which beat Channel Islands 54-3 in Week 2, has lost its last two games, 28-13 at St. Bonaventure and 34-13 at Oxnard-Pacifica. Both those teams are ranked in their respective divisions.

“The week off gave us some time to get refreshed for the season,” said Santa Barbara coach JT Stone. "We are prepared and ready to compete.”

San Marcos coach Jason Fowle has stressed the sense of urgency to his team as it enters league play.

“We are focused on the task at hand,” he said. “Santa Barbara is a very good team, and we feel that we are ready for the challenge. Each week is a one-game season for us from here on out.”

The Royals have shown they can put points on the board. Their defense stepped up against Channel Islands.

“We have to play sound team football and maintain our focus from one play to the next,” Fowle said of playing against the Dons. “One big play for or against us is not going to make us or break us in the grand scheme of things. We have to trust in our preparation and in each other that we can and will do the little things necessary to compete in this contest.”

Stone is aware of San Marcos’ improvement.

“They could easily be 3-2 or 4-1,” he said. “They are playing better football, which is good to see.

“We know they are going to come out prepared and ready to go, but so will the Dons. This is a big game for the community so we are excited and expect a competitive football game.”

Santa Barbara leads the all-time series 34-24, and has won three straight and seven of the last eight meetings.

Here is look at this weekend's games:

San Marcos (1-4) vs. Santa Barbara (3-2), at SBCC, 7 p.m. (Radio 1290 AM) — Santa Barbara quarterback Frankie Gamberdella has played well in the Big Game, throwing four TD passes in both the 2016 and 2017 games. He also ran for two scores last year. If San Marcos is unable to put pressure on him, it could be a long night.

The Dons' defense will have to find a way to stop relentless running back Tommy Schaefer and pressure quarterback Ben Partee. The X factor is Jeremiah Phillips. He hasn't run the ball much in the last few games, focusing more on defense. The last time the Dons played at La Playa in Week 1, Phillips ran wild. The Pick: Santa Barbara.

Cabrillo (0-5) vs. Dos Pueblos (3-2), at San Marcos, 7 p.m. — It's a new beginning for Cabrillo, which struggled during the non-league schedule. Dos Pueblos looks to shake off a loss to a strong Righetti team and get its productive run game going again. The Pick: Dos Pueblos

Carpinteria (4-2, No. 9 in Div. 12) at Santa Paula (6-0, No. 4 in Div. 11),  7 p.m. — The Warriors' need to improve on their pass rush and protect the football. Santa Paula is playing with tons of confidence. Expect another close game in the balanced CCL. The Pick: Santa Paula.

Santa Ynez (3-2) at Lompoc (3-2, No. 10 in Div. 3), 7 p.m. — The Braves have had the upper hand in this series. The confident play of quarterback Cameron Iribarren and their solid line give them the edge. The Pick: Lompoc.


Grace Brethren (4-2, No. 4 in Div. 4) vs. Bishop Diego (3-3), at SBCC, 7:30 p.m. —Grace Brethren made a statement last week by beating Division 3-ranked Westlake, 24-6. The Lancers return most of their starters from last year's team that beat Bishop in the TVL title game, won a CIF division title and was a state runner-up.

Bowling-ball running back Lontrelle Diggs (5-8, 225 pounds) rushed for 178 yards against Westlake, and the Grace defense held Westlake scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. The Lancers also get four transfers eligible for this game.

Bishop's offense struggled in the second half at Division 6 third-ranked St. Margaret's (42-15 loss) last week. The offense will need to put together sustained drives to give the defense a rest. The Pick: Grace Brethren.

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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