Nathan Barrios, left, and Rork Norton.
Nathan Barrios, left, and Rork Norton are impact players for the Santa Barbara High football team. The Dons play San Marcos in the 62nd Big Game on Friday at San Marcos. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

It’s Big Game week as Santa Barbara and San Marcos high schools meet in football for the 62nd time on Friday night.

This year’s clash will be at Warkentin Stadium, where San Marcos is planning for a festive event.

The school will be honoring its Hall of Fame classes of 2021 and 2022, which include two football legends — coach Bob Archer and the late John Craviotto, an outstanding player for the Royals in the early 1970s.

“They’re just two of the inductees, and I’m real proud to know both of them,” said current football coach Ralph Molina at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

He noted that Archer was his first football coach in YFL and still attends San Marcos games.

Molina said the San Marcos football parents are putting together a feast for fans that will include tri-tip, tacos and roasted corn.

“I’ve got parents who donate toward the football program. They handle the concessions and everything’s donated. They’re going to do an all-out feast Friday night. They want to make it a big event for us. You name it, they’re going to have it, and they donate it all.

“The amazing part is that 100 percent of (the proceeds) goes to our football program,” said Molina. “It’s gonna be a fun time Friday night.”

The Royals are aiming to finish the season at 5-5, but Molina knows it will be a challenge against a CIF-playoff bound Santa Barbara team that is seeking a share of the Channel League title.

“We play a good football team,” he said. “It’s great opportunity for us. It’s gonna be big-time football.”

After wearing down Buena last week to remain in first place, Santa Barbara has its eye on winning a title many people familiar with local high school football thought wasn’t possible.

“At the beginning of the year, I told these guys our goal was to win a league title,” said Santa Barbara coach JT Stone. “We were fueled by people wanting to put us as the third-best team in the league. They said we weren’t tough enough, anything like that. So those things now lead us to San Marcos and lead us into the playoffs.

“So, I’m telling you right now, our team is jacked up and ready to go. We’re going to show up Friday ready to play, Like Ralph said, it’s gonna be a big environment, and Santa Barbara High is gonna be there, ready to put on a show.”

Stone introduced seniors Nathan Barrios, the Athlete of the Week, and Rork Norton, two players who were instrumental in the win at Buena. 

Barrios rushed for 210 yards and scored four touchdowns, and Rork was part of a defense that wore down Buena’s star quarterback, Zane Carter, and the Bulldogs’ offense.

Stone said Rork is a player who “constantly holds himself accountable for everything he does,” and it rubs off on the other members of the team.

“I respect him so much,” said the coach. 

“He’s going to be a phenomenal CEO; he’s going to be a great worker because he holds himself accountable, and he wants nothing but the best for himself.

“That’s how he treats our football team. That’s how he plays. He is our leader; he is our grab your guys in the jersey (to fire them up). He’s that guy for us and I respect that, and it’s needed for the type of football team that we have.”

Barrios has Santa Barbara football in his blood.

“I’ve been in this town a long time, and I’ve played with a lot of players,” said Stone. “I’ve got people in here that I played with and families that I know, and his dad was a ‘dog.’

“This guy’s a ‘dog.’ His dad was rough like that. And when I got (Nathan), I already knew his bloodline. I’m fortunate and blessed again to have one of my friend’s kids playing in this program. He brings nothing but nails — hard hitting, works hard. And it showed last Friday night, and we’re expecting a big one from him on Friday (against San Marcos). 

“He’s our go-to guy. When we need anything rough, tough yardage, it’s this guy. He’s just a football player. He’s a flat-out football guy. And we love him for that.”

Molina brought seniors Kai Binder and Chase Morgan, two players who have brought a solid work ethic and team-first attitude to the program.

“These are just hard working guys,” said Molina. “Since the day I met them, they’re usually the last guys to leave practice. “They’ve been instrumental; they’re backup players who push our guys. I’m gonna miss both of them.”

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