Now come the challenging tests for the Santa Barbara High football team.
The 3-0 Dons will take a CIF-SS Division 7 No. 1 ranking into St. Bonaventure on Friday night, and next week play a high-flying Oxnard-Pacifica team before starting Channel League play.
Against St. Bonaventure, the Dons’ defense will have to figure out a way to contain the elusive Kai Puailoa Rojas in order to stay in the game with the Seraphs, the No. 9-ranked team in Division 4.
Rojas, who grew up in Santa Barbara and was a standout youth football player here, has scored seven touchdowns for the 2-1 Seraphs.
The senior always seems to have his hands on the football. When he’s not taking handoffs or catching passes on offense, he’s intercepting passes on defense, or returning punts and kickoffs on special teams.
After St. Bonaventure’s 27-3 win over Bishop Diego two weeks ago, Seraphs coach Tony Henney called Rojas a “video game” for his ability elude tacklers and score in multiple ways.
Santa Barbara’s defense is coming off a good performance, not allowing Channel Islands to score a touchdown in a 54-3 romp last week.
You can be sure the Dons watched film of Highland’s 38-6 win over St. Bonaventure last week, where it held Rojas to 67 total yards, according to MaxPreps.
This game will be a good test for quarterback Frankie Gamberdella and the Dons’ offense, which had its way against Channel Islands.
Before the Highland game, St. Bonaventure’s defense allowed just 10 points in wins over El Camino Real of the L.A. City Section and Bishop Diego.
Here are the previews and predictions for this week’s games:
Santa Barbara (3-0, No. 1 in Div. 7) at St. Bonaventure 2-1, No. 9 in Div. 4), at Ventura College, 7 p.m. — This figures to be a high-scoring game. Santa Barbara’s defense needs to play big and the offense has to mix it up. The Pick: Santa Barbara
Nipomo (3-0) vs. Bishop Diego (1-2), at SBCC, 7 p.m. — If their timing is better in the passing game, the Cardinals should snap their two-game losing streak. The Pick: Bishop Diego.
Nordhoff (3-0, No. 5 in Div. 10) at San Marcos (0-3), 7 p.m. — Once the Royals clean up their second-half mistakes, they’ll celebrate a victory. This is the week. The Pick: San Marcos
Arroyo Grande (2-1) at Lompoc (2-1, No. 8 in Div. 3), 7 p.m. — The Braves took a huge step forward with a complete-game win over Bishop Diego last week. They keep the momentum going in their home opener against their traditional rival, which is now in the CIF-Central Section. The Pick: Lompoc
Viewpoint (1-2) at Carpinteria (2-1, No. 3 in Div. 12), 7 p.m. — The inexperienced offensive line has come together for the Warriors, as they look to build momentum before next week’s Citrus Coast League opener. The Pick: Carpinteria
Cabrillo (0-3) at Pioneer Valley (0-2), 7 p.m. — Both teams have played tough opponents. Cabrillo cut down on its mistakes last week against a good Rio Mesa team. The Pick: Cabrillo.
Buena (0-3) vs. Dos Pueblos (2-1) at San Marcos, 7 p.m. — Jesse Mollkoy’s last-second 43-yard field goal to beat Ventura gave the Chargers a huge emotional lift. They’ll continue riding that momentum against another former Channel League rival. The Pick: Dos Pueblos.