The anticipation is building for local high school football teams as the season is rapidly approaching.
Several teams will go live against opponents in scrimmages this weekend before kicking off the regular season in Week Zero on Friday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 24.
Here’s a look at some of key games this season.
The opening weekend features defending Channel League-champion Lompoc taking on a much-improved Simi Valley at Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium on Friday night. Simi is in its second season under legendary coach Jim Benkert, who took Westlake and Oaks Christian to CIF titles. In his first season with the Highlanders, they went 8-4 and won a CIF playoff game.
Lompoc made a stunning first-round playoff exit in Division 3 last season and finished 8-3. Coach Andrew Jones returns several starters, including Channel League Players of the Year quarterback Cameron Iribarren, linebacker Leondre Coleman and offensive lineman Jacob Nunez. The 6-4, 275-pound Nunez has committed to Arizona State and 6-3, 230-pound receiver Ryan Morgan committed to Wyoming.
Dos Pueblos will play its first football game on the new turf field at Scott O’Leary Stadium against a Rio Mesa team that features outstanding wide receiver and return man CJ Lewis.
The Chargers will once again have a big offensive line, led by 6-1, 306-pound senior tackle Roberto Vargas. Seniors Udy Loza and Conner Lee lead the rushing attack behind senior quarterback Albert Alvarado.
With the Peabody Stadium renovation project still a work in progress, Santa Barbara High gave up a season-opening home game and will play at Buena on Friday, Aug. 23.
The Dons have a blue-chip quarterback in 6-3, 225-pound junior Deacon Hill throwing to a speedy, athletic and experienced group of receivers like seniors Dakota Hill (no relation), Jackson Gonzales, Moki Nacario and junior Jake Knecht.
San Marcos, led by the senior passing combination of quarterback Ben Partee and wide receiver Josh Brown, opens at home against Santa Paula.
Santa Ynez, which broke a playoff drought last season, is home against Nipomo.
On Saturday, Aug. 24, Bishop Diego, coming off its first losing season (4-7 in Division 4) since 2010, kicks off its second season in Division 4 against Cabrillo at Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium.
Carpinteria, led by senior running back Jacob Macias and quarterback Will Collins, begins play under new coach Mario Robinson in Week 1 (Friday, Aug. 30) against Santa Ynez. The match-up is one of the oldest rivalries in the county, going back 69 years.
Bishop Diego plays a pair of marquee match-ups on back-to-back Fridays. On Aug. 30, the Cardinals host St. Bonaventure and its Wyoming-commit quarterback Gavin Beerup. The following Friday (Sept. 6) they play at Lompoc in a battle between the area’s winningest programs in the last few years. Lompoc won last year’s meeting at La Playa Stadium, 36-10.
Also on Sept. 6, Santa Barbara plays its first “home” game, hosting Channel Islands at San Marcos’ Warkentin Stadium. The Dons face St. Bonaventure at the same venue on the following Friday, Sept. 13.
Santa Barbara changes home fields on Friday, Sept. 20, moving to Dos Pueblos to take on a potent Pacifica team from Oxnard.
Bishop Diego goes on the national stage on Sept. 20, playing host to Chicago Hope Academy of Illinois at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium. The Chicago parochial high school returns a 1,000-yard rusher in 6-2 quarterback Trevor Land.
Carpinteria opens a reduced Citrus Coast League schedule on Sept. 20 against Nordhoff at home. The once seven-team league lost Malibu and Santa Clara due to low turnouts for football. Those schools are fielding 8-man teams this season.
Carpinteria plays four league games in the middle of the season and finishes with three non-league opponents.
There are three intersectional games on the schedule for Friday, Sept. 27. Dos Pueblos takes on Righetti, the Central Section’s Division 2 runner-up last season; Lompoc travels to St. Joseph while Santa Ynez plays at Templeton. Righetti, St. Joseph and Templeton left for the CIF-Central Section last year.
October brings the start of league play. The Channel League kicks off on Oct. 4 with the “Big Game” between San Marcos and Santa Barbara at San Marcos, and Lompoc is at longtime rival Santa Ynez. In another big league opener, Bishop Diego kicks off Camino League play against defending league, Southern Section and State champion Grace Brethren at Moorpark College.
On Friday, Oct. 11, Carpinteria hosts Santa Paula in a key Citrus Coast League battle. Santa Barbara will be looking for revenge against Santa Ynez in a game at Dos Pueblos. Bishop Diego has a Saturday night home game against Camarillo at SBCC.
The Channel League title could be on the line when Santa Barbara travels to Lompoc on Friday, Oct. 18. This game will feature two talented quarterbacks: Deacon Hill of Santa Barbara and Iribarren of Lompoc. Bishop Diego hosts perennial power Paraclete in a late-season non-league game at SBCC on the 18th.
The Santa Ynez at Dos Pueblos game on Friday, Oct. 25 figures to have playoff implications in the Channel League.
Key regular-season finales on Nov. 1 figure to be Santa Barbara at Dos Pueblos, San Marcos at Santa Ynez and Thousand Oaks vs. Bishop Diego at SBCC.
2019 Week-by-Week Football Schedule
Friday, Aug. 23
Santa Barbara High at Buena, 7 p.m.
Santa Paula at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Rio Mesa at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Simi Valley at Lompoc, 7 p.m.
Nipomo at Santa Ynez, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 24
Bishop Diego vs. Cabrillo, at Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 30
St. Bonaventure vs. Bishop Diego, at SBCC, 7:30 p.m.
Santa Barbara High at Ventura, 7 p.m.
San Marcos at Santa Maria, 7 p.m.
Dos Pueblos at Pacifica, 7 p.m.
Santa Ynez at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Righetti at Lompoc, 7 p.m.
Cabrillo at Nipomo, 7 p.m.
Cate at Santa Clara, 7 p.m.
Laguna Blanca at Coast Union, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 6
Channel Islands vs. Santa Barbara, at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
San Marcos at San Luis Obispo, 7 p.m.
Ventura at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Bishop Diego at Lompoc, 7 p.m.
Beverly Hills at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Santa Maria at Santa Ynez, 7 p.m.
Cabrillo at Rio Mesa, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 13
St. Bonaventure vs. Santa Barbara, at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
San Marcos at Nordhoff, 7 p.m.
Dos Pueblos at Buena, 7 p.m.
Bishop Diego at Nipomo, 7 p.m.
St. Genevieve at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Lompoc vs. Arroyo Grande, at Pioneer Valley, 7 p.m.
Pioneer Valley at Cabrillo, 7 p.m.
Villanova at Laguna Blanca, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 14
Sage Oak at Cate, 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20
Pacifica vs. Santa Barbara, at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Channel Islands at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Chicago Hope at Bishop Diego, at SBCC, 7:30 p.m.
Nordhoff at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Santa Ynez at San Luis Obispo, 7 p.m.
Cabrillo at Buena, 7 p.m.
Cate at Orcutt Academy, 7 p.m.
Laguna Blanca at Fulton Prep, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 27
Righetti at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Carpinteria at Fillmore, 7 p.m.
Lompoc at St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
Santa Ynez at Templeton, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 28
Flintridge Prep at Cate, 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 4
Santa Barbara at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Dos Pueblos at Cabrillo, at Huyck Stadium, 7 p..m.
Bishop Diego vs. Grace Brethren, at Moorpark College, 7:30 p.m.
Hueneme at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Lompoc at Santa Ynez, 7 p.m.
Cate at Malibu, 6:30 p.m.
Laguna Blanca vs. Sherman Oaks CES, TBD
Friday, Oct. 11
Santa Ynez vs, Santa Barbara, at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Cabrillo at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Dos Pueblos at Lompoc, 7 p.m.
Santa Paula at Carpinteria, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 12
Camarillo at Bishop Diego, at SBCC, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 18
Santa Barbara at Lompoc, 7 p.m.
Dos Pueblos at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Paraclete at Bishop Diego, at SBCC, 7:30 p.m.
Cabrillo at Santa Ynez, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19
Villanova Prep at Cate, 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 24
Beacon Hill at Laguna Blanca, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 25
Santa Barbara at Cabrillo, 7 p.m.
Lompoc at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Santa Ynez at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
Bishop Diego at Moorpark, 7 p.m.
Carpinteria at Viewpoint, 7 p.m.
Cate at Faith Baptist, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 1
Santa Barbara at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.
San Marcos at Santa Ynez
Thousand Oaks at Bishop Diego, at SBCC, 7:30 p.m.
Carpinteria vs. TBD, 7 p.m.
Lompoc at Cabrillo, 7 p.m.
Laguna Blanca at Valley Christian, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2
Thacher at Cate, 2:30 p.m.