McClintock Brothers
Brothers Cole and Brian McClintock are leaders on the Laguna Blanca 8-man football team. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Could this be the year the UCSB men’s water polo team makes their preseason goals a reality?

The recent results are a good sign the Gauchos are capable of realizing those goals.

On Sunday, they beat top-ranked and defending national champion USC at the Inland Empire Classic and the week prior they knocked off No. 4 Cal, No. 5 Long Beach State and No. 7 Pepperdine at the UC San Diego Triton Classic.

“You write goals at the beginning of the season,” UCSB coach Wolf Wigo said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. “Of course we write we want to win the conference, win NCAA. But I’m not sure everybody believed that when they put the pen to the paper. I think now it’s very realistic for the whole team.”

The Gauchos are off to a 9-0 start, tying the best start in program history. They’ll go for the record at Campus Pool on Thursday at noon against Ottawa University, a new program. They’ll then play Pepperdine at 5 p.m.

The 13-9 win over USC showed that the Gauchos should be considered a serious contender.

“I think one of the reasons we’re dong so well is we don’t have any star players that are out for themselves, putting other players down or are lazy,” Wigo said of the team. “The whole team is a group of guys who are working hard every single day. The leaders of the team are supporting the other players. There’s no egos involved. We’re three-deep at every position. And, it’s really a lot of fun to work with these players.”

The Westmont men’s soccer also is off to a record start. The NAIA eighth-ranked Warriors set a program record with their sixth straight win last weekend, 2-0 road win over Olivet Nazarene of Illinois.

Coach Dave Wolf said the great start is a tale of two stories. 

“The first story is what the numbers tell,” he said. “That’s pretty positive right now.

“The second story is what happens inside your group. I would say that story is unfolding. How did we get there? I don’t have a clear explanation.”

And he’s not about to wrack his brain to figure it out.

“Sometimes in coaching the best tactic is you keep our mouth shut and stay out of the way That’s where I’m at right now.”

After his team suffered a 51-7 defeat in 104-degree heat at San Bernardino Valley College last Saturday, SBCC football coach Craig Moropoulos thought back to what his father, legendary Santa Barbara High coach Mike Moropoulos, told him after experiencing a loss when he was a younger coach.

“I learned something being around my idol, my father Mike Moropoulos,” he said.

After wailing about all the mistakes, Craig Moropoulos said his father stopped him and said, “Did you do anything good? Tell me something good, don’t dwell on the negative.”

The SBCC coach was reminded of those words on Saturday and pointed to the positive play of running back Will Bayonne and cornerback Eric Lopez.

The Vaqueros now gear up for a Saturday 6 p.m. home game against perennial power College of the Canyons on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a challenge and we’re going to accept the challenge and get after it,” vowed Mororpoulos.

Here’s a recap of what the coaches said about the athletes the brought to the press luncheon:

SBCC Football

Coach Moropoulos on running back Will Bayonne: “The young man stepped up and replaced the guy that didn’t go (to the game for disciplinary reasons) and rushed for over 100 yards against a very good team in a very tough setting. He caught a 60-yard screen pass for a touchdown.”

On freshman corner Eric Lopez out of Dos Pueblos: “This young man is player. He stepped up big against a team that was throwing. He had two pass break ups and eight tackles.”

Laguna Blanca Football

Coach Shane Lopes on senior Brian McClintock: “He’s instrumental in keeping this (program) alive. He is a leader vocally and also by example. He represents everything that we aim to instill in all of our players, including character, perseverance, and self determination. He’s come a long way and he has set a great example for his younger brother, Cole.”

On sophomore middle linebacker Cole McClintock: “He is one of the few players who played YFL (youth football) before high school. He brings a lot of value to the team in that way because he has that experience . Even though he’s a 10th grader, we see him as a leader as well.”

Santa Barbara High Cross Country

Assistant coach Moki Nacario on: Alice Gipe and Grace Miller: “They’re holding it down for the girls and holding down on the leadership.”

On Amir Walton and Collin Wells: Amir is a sophomore in his first year of cross country. He’s killing it. We tell him: just go! He’s hanging up there with Collin, who is a more experienced runner.”

Dos Pueblos Football

Assistant coach Herb Welch on running back/linebacker Udy Loza: “He’s one of the captains voted by his peers. He had one of the most phenomenal offseason workouts  I’ve ever watched a high school player have. By far and away, he set a bunch of records in the weight room.”

On tight end/linebacker/defensive end Josh Navarro: “Against Buena, we put him at the defensive end spot, where they were hurting us, and he throws away a double team, makes the running back cut back, sheds that thing, runs all the way down line, tackles that guy. And, all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Oh, we found the answer.’ He had 16 tackles, 8 of those solos and he had a couple of sacks.”

Dos Pueblos Girls Golf

Coach Dan Choi on Kathy Ramirez-Gijon: “Kathy is a four-year starter. Her freshman year she averaged 72 (for 9 holes), her sophomore year she averaged 59, junior year she average 53. How’s that for continued progress?”

On Julia Schniepp: “She came out sophomore year and probably averaged around the high 60s for us. That summer, she said, ‘I’m going to get better,’ and she worked really hard on her own. She came back shooting 40s and 50s the next year.”

San Marcos Football

Coach Jason Fowle on lineman Joe Kirkwood: “Joe is the heart and soul and personality of our offensive line for sure, probably of our team. He’s one of the nicest young men you’ll ever meet. Joe is having a good year. He’s coming off a pretty serious injury last year. He accelerated his ability come back and play at a high level for us.”

On receiver Adrian Gutierrez: “Adrian has been a pleasant surprise at wide receiver. He’s had three multiple-catch games. Adrian has made the most of his targets.”

San Marcos Cross Country

San Marcos XC

San Marcos cross country was represented by, from left: Lauren Hill, Madi Funk, Eddie Chan and Will Snyder. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Coach Lawrence Stehmeier on Eddie Chan: “He’s on my JV team but he’s pushing the varsity. I never have to worry about who is running with Eddie because I knew they’ll be running hard.”

On Lauren Hill: “She hasn’t run a race yet, but I have an idea that the varsity is going to be shaken up a little bit after Friday’s race. It’s going to be exciting watching her help the varsity out.”

On Madi Funk: “She is still running great. She’s a great example; she works out with the guys varsity. Our goal is to get her out there to run against some good competition and have her show the colleges what she can do.”

On Will Snyder: It doesn’t matter who’s around him, he pushes hard. He’s our one varsity senior. He ran 15:54 (over 3 miles) at Santa Maria. I think that’s the beginning of what we’re going to see this year.”

Bishop Diego Football

Athletic Director Mike Cano on cornerback Ethan Morales: “He had a late pick to seal the victory (over Nipomo). Ethan is a two-year player. A man of few words, but smiles a lot.”

On guard Rudy Sanchez: “Our center went out with an ankle injury (against Nipomo) and Rudy stepped in at center and we didn’t miss a beat. He’s a three-year starter for us.”

Santa Barbara High Football

Coach J.T. Stone on two-way lineman Jorge Contreras: “He really didn’t come off the field. He was the one bright spot on the offensive line this past (against St. Bonaventure). He played extremely well. I was proud of his effort.”

On Saloman Manzanarez: “He played solid (against St. Bonaventure). I appreciated his effort. I was very happy with his performance.”

Carpinteria Football

Weldon Nomura, speaking for coach Mario Robinson, on offensive lineman Conor Bailey: “A team captain, Conor is a hard-working guy.  He pushes himself and the team to its best.”

On two-way lineman Enrique Marin: “He is a captain and a positive leader.”

Carpinteria Cross Country

Nomura on twins Shaylah and Savannah Alvarez: “The Alvarez twins have been our 1-2 punch for the last couple of years and continue to do well this year. They are team captains.”

SB girls golf

Melia Haller, left, and Lizzie Goss are the low scorers for the Santa Barbara High golf team. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

On Esteban Zapata and Luke Nakasone: “These guys are my working-class dogs. They’ve always been that way. Four-year runners, they started super slow as freshmen and worked their way up to be varsity runners. We expect a lot out of them.”

Santa Barbara High Girls Golf 

Coach Ryan Throop on Lizzie Goss: “She’s a two-sport athlete, also plays varsity soccer. Her average is about 40 for nine holes. She’s the opposite of a slacker. She’s constantly working on her game whether it be soccer or golf and excels at both. She’s definitely a leader, definitely brings up the team.”

On Melia Haller: “She has a 4.9 gpa; she has more A-pluses than A’s in her three years of high school. She had a hole in one at Olivas Park No. 5 on Sunday. She’s been medalist seven times (for the Dons), and she’s still working on her game.”

SBCC Women’s Water Polo

Coach Chuckie Roth acknowledged two players from Hawaii, Hana Wigzell and Taylor Brooks, who’ve helped the team to a 5-0 start.

On Wigzell: “Hana is doing a great job as my leader, playmaker and only returner.”’

On Brooks: “Taylor is arguably one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached in my life; continues to impress the team and do good things.”

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.