Any question that Santa Barbara City College would add to the momentum of recent big wins was answered exactly 15 seconds into Saturday’s game against L.A. Valley at La Playa Stadium.
That’s how long it took Vaquero freshman Kayden Chan to run back the opening kickoff 91 yards — running up the middle and then cutting to the right sideline — to start a quick flood of SBCC scores that resulted in a 52-0 win over the Monarchs.
“That’s a great feeling, when you get that,” SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos said of his team’s second game-opening TD kickoff return of the season. “Just kind of, ‘OK, here we go.’ It kind of steals a little energy from the opponent.”
The Vaqueros’ sixth-straight win was also the third straight home shutout, in which they’ve outscored opponents 201-0. SBCC is now 6-1 overall and 2-0 in American Pacific League play. L.A. Valley falls to 1-7 and 0-2.
The Vaqueros kept the pressure on — after an L.A. Valley three-and-out, SBCC put together a 10-play, 64-yard drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown rush by running back Brandon Smith. Joe Bowman made his second PAT and the lead was 14-0 midway through the opening quarter.
A drive later, another Smith TD run, this time for 19 yards, staked SBCC to a 21-0 first quarter lead.
At that point, the Vaqueros’ new black uniforms must have appeared like an early Halloween apparition of Grim Reapers to the Monarchs. And they kept coming, showing a personnel depth that helps to stymie opponents’ answers.
In the second quarter, Smith scored his third consecutive rushing touchdown, from seven yards, and racked up 69 yards for the half. However, his streak of four consecutive 100-plus yard games came to an end, as he was rested for the second half.
“I didn’t feel like we needed Brandon to win the game,” Moropoulos said. “The worst thing that could happen is have him out there and he gets hurt, and then he’s out of next week’s game. That was, simply put, the reason why we held him out in the second half.”
And next week the Vaqueros play at Antelope Valley, the defending APL champions, who beat Santa Monica 54-3 Saturday.
Instead it was sophomore running back Mekhi Norfleet who got the 100-yard game for SBCC — 101 yards to be exact, on 10 carries, including a 79-yarder.
SBCC took a 38-0 lead into halftime, after which they posted a scoreless third quarter. Then backup quarterback Shaun Smith spelled starter Alex Johnson in the fourth quarter, and he promptly gave the team a spark, completing 7 of 7 passes for 67 yards and a 19-yard scoring strike to Reese Catchings.
Shaun Smith also rushed for the other fourth-quarter score.
“I wanted to get him in there because he brings an element to the game with his athletic ability that just really gives you a lift,” Moropoulos said of Shaun Smith. “And that’s what he did. We kind of bogged down in the third quarter, we were just kind of back and forth. And then when Shaun came in, he gave us a spark.”
Catchings was another fourth-quarter add, and he responded with five catches and the TD.
Once again, SBCC showed proficiency in offense, defense and special teams. Bowman again hit on all PATs, making him a perfect 44-of-44 for the year, and he added a 33-yard field goal. Freshman linebacker Joe Carson had an interception, one of three Vaquero picks, back 33 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
“We play three phases and we play four quarters and we try not to take any quarters off,” Moropoulos said. “We’re not trying to run any scores up, we’re just trying to play hard.
“Every phase has guys who are stepping up and doing a great job.”
And that helps for next Saturday’s road trip to Lancaster to face Antelope Valley, also 2-0 in conference play.
“They’ll be really good,” Moropoulos said. “Got to play hard and get the job done. And it’s going to be a real challenge for us.”