The way rival Channel League coaches describe Santa Barbara's home stadium, you would think they were going to play a football game in the English moors.
"It's this old, dingy, dark stadium," Buena Coach Rick Scott said. "It's shaped like a egg. It's wide at one end and narrow at the other. Part of one end zone stretches out to the track and they have to put dirt on it so no one gets hurt."
Ok, so it's not the Rose Bowl.
The stadium, however, does have its legends and Buena and Oxnard would just as soon not have to play at the place many call "The Pit."
"I call it the resort city by the sea," Oxnard Coach Jack Davis said, facetiously.
During the next two weeks, Buena and Oxnard will play at Santa Barbara in games that will decide the Channel League championship. Santa Barbara and Oxnard are both 4-0 in league play. Buena is 3-1.
"I haven't had much luck there," Scott said. "That stadium has some mystic to it. Something strange always happens there."
Passing on passing: Buena has almost twice as many yards passing as it does rushing (1,355 to 709), but Scott may be forced to keep the ball on the ground against unbeaten Santa Barbara.
"We don't match up well with a team like Santa Barbara," Scott said. "They have too much speed. We can't afford to try and trade touchdowns on every series. We need to control the ball and eat up the clock and keep their offense on the bench."
The Bulldogs, who are 6-1 overall, hope Santa Barbara (7-0) is looking past this game toward next week's contest against Oxnard (6-1).
"Santa Barbara faces the same type of mismatch against Oxnard," Scott said. "Maybe they'll go easy on us and try to keep a few tricks in their pocket for next week."
Double ouch: When Oxnard running back Walter Bell left Friday's game with a knee injury, he was replaced by another small and fast Yellowjacket. But for the Oxnard basketball team, there is no replacement for the loss of Bell.
Bell, a senior, suffered torn ligaments in his left knee and had to be taken off the field by stretcher after being tackled during the opening kickoff against Rio Mesa. He underwent surgery at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard on Saturday and is expected to miss the remainder of the football season and the basketball season.
Oxnard basketball coach Dan Garcia, who attended the game, was in shock.
"There goes our basketball season," Garcia said. "Mainly, I felt badly for Walter. He had a promising basketball career. He was going to be one of the best guards in the league."
Bell was Oxnard's fourth-leading rusher with 126 yards and a touchdown in 24 carries. As a basketball player, Bell led the Yellowjackets in assists last season with a 4.6 average and was third in scoring with an 11.1 average.
"I wouldn't think he'll play much, if at all, this basketball season," Garcia said.
Tough act to swallow: "No one's ever done that against us," Calabasas Coach Larry Edwards said. "And I hope no one ever does it again."
Edwards, whose team was drubbed by Santa Clara, 51-28, on Friday night, found himself on the wrong end of a remarkable display of accuracy. Santa Clara quarterback Tim Gutierrez completed 23 of 25 passes for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Frontier League game.
"We were doing everything we could," Edwards said, adding a slight understatement: "He was significant."
Said Gutierrez, sheepishly: "I don't know, it seemed kinda easy."
Gutierrez's "Aw, shucks" attitude probably stems from his 73% completion rate (104 of 141) and his 1,596 yards passing and 12 touchdowns this season.
Gutierrez, a junior, overtook Santa Paula quarterback Rick Carpenter for most yards passing in the county.
"It doesn't really feel like I've passed for that many yards," Gutierrez said. "I don't know why."
The 2 incomplete passes? One was batted away by a defender. The other, Gutierrez badly overthrew the receiver on a fly pattern.
"I had to go out there and chew his butt about that one," Coach Steve Dann said, jokingly. "The guy was wide open. Our linemen were saying, 'Geez, I could have thrown that one."
Soph serve: Ventura Coach Harvey Kochel brought up 4 sophomores to the varsity last week to bolster his starting lineup--not because he has given up on this season.
"I haven't given up on anything," said Kochel, whose team is 4-3, 1-3 in Channel League play. "I don't make changes that will make us worse--just better. We were in a position where we needed help and these players have proven they can do the job."
Quarterback Jeff Dietz, running back Jack Hammond, cornerback Art Barratto and defensive end Sampson Okinaga left an undefeated sophomore team and started in Ventura's first league victory, a 21-10 decision over San Marcos.
Jeff Dietz, who replaced senior Tim Albrent at quarterback, completed 3 of 7 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. Hammond rushed 13 times for 82 yards and a touchdown.