Pregame antics that were perceived to be acts of blatant disrespect lit a fire under Lompoc High’s football team that rival Cabrillo couldn’t extinguish on Friday night.
After watching Cabrillo’s squad, which arrived at the field 15 minutes before kickoff, plant its Conquistador flag at midfield and prompt a team-versus-team face-off after the coin toss, the Braves erupted for seven first-half touchdowns and capped their undefeated inaugural season in the Channel League with an emphatic 63-0 victory in their regular season finale at Huyck Stadium.
“You can not like us, but we’ve always respected the rivalry,” said Lompoc coach Andrew Jones, who tallied his 100th win with the Braves. “Our guys were ready to go, but for them to come out and plant the flag, which was obviously choreographed and staged, and show up here the way they did, I think it backfired on them. It absolutely irritated us.”
The motivated Braves (8-2, 5-0) went to work quickly behind the potent rushing attack of tailback Leondre Coleman and quarterback Cameron Iribarren. The duo accounted for Lompoc’s first six touchdowns and helped the Braves outgain Cabrillo 304-57 in total yards in the first half alone.
“I’ve never seen a team so disciplined and pissed off at the same time,” Jones said of his squad. “To not retaliate, but to just do their talking with the pads was awesome on our guys’ part.”
The Conquistadores’ best starting field position Friday was at their own 48 when they recovered an onside kick by Lompoc, which had just taken a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
“We probably wouldn’t have done the onside kick, but the fact that they were trying to disrespect us, and they don’t acknowledge the fact this is Huyck Stadium. Many years ago, the Huyck family donated a lot of money for this stadium. They’re great supporters and a great family in our town, and for (Cabrillo) to disrespect us and plant the flag, it upset our guys.”
Coleman, a junior, finished with 111 yards rushing on 11 carries with touchdown runs of 50 and 11 yards and added a 35-yard TD reception. He then spent the second half resting on the sidelines.
Iribarren worked three quarters and compiled 190 yards on 9 carries with touchdown runs of 31, 33 and 82 yards. He finished the game completing 5-of-9 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. His second scoring strike, a 2-yarder to Cullin Ranney, sent the Braves into halftime with a 49-0 lead.
“Earlier in the season, we were trying to put people in the right places and create a powerhouse running game,” said Iribarren, a junior. “We had to find more ways of using Coleman. He’s a dynamic player, and since we’ve put him at running back, we’ve been dominating other teams lately.”
Iribarren’s 82-yard touchdown run capped the scoring for the Braves in the third quarter, which featured a running clock.
Cabrillo (0-10, 0-5) suffered its first winless season since 2000, but despite the contentious start to the game, the contest ended with Iribarren and Conquistadores quarterback Jackson Anderson sharing heartfelt words and an embrace — a show of mutual respect.
“We’ve known each other since youth football, and we’ve competed against each other in track,” Iribarren said. “When we were kids, he was the quarterback and I was the running back. Now, he’s a senior. Knowing it’s his last year and this was his final game, it was good to talk to him.”
Lompoc now enters the CIF Division 3 playoffs as a league champion.
“I’ve told our kids to enjoy this one tonight, but come in ready to work tomorrow morning,” Jones said. “On Sunday, we’ll find out who we face next.”