Count on Santa Maria and Santa Ynez to display a wide range of ticked off emotions this Friday on the football field.

The Saints and Pirates’ scenarios look all too recognizable from a year ago: Win their game and they’re in the postseason. But lose? Then the off-season starts immediately after the game, though the Saints have been assured a playoff spot this time due to the Northern League having four teams and SMHS finishing no worse than second in league standings. 

Their chances of making the playoffs stalled last year – Santa Maria falling to Nipomo at home 19-14 with the Northern League title on the line and Santa Ynez getting embarrassed 51-17 at home against St. Joseph. Now, both teams have the Nipomo and St. Joseph obstacle to scale once again this Friday…with a league title or playoff bid on the line.  

This time around, both SMHS and SYHS have experience in their corner – as the Saints are senior heavy and the Pirates brought back 19 returning starters from that 8-2 team of a year ago.  

Lee Central Coast Newspapers’ Elliot Stern has been out to the Pirates’ practices and he says things have gotten intense among the players, where it’s obvious this week is personal for the Pirates. Meanwhile, the perception around South Broadway here in town is that head coach Dan Ellington is in a win-now scenario, simply because his team will be pressing the reset button once his 22 seniors all graduate, including dynamic dual-threat quarterback Blake Truhitte and top edge rusher Gerardo Zul.

Emotions will run high, especially since both teams are senior heavy and also, clearly, will have a chip on their shoulder – which they’ll have in tow once they hit the road in Nipomo and St. Joseph, respectively.

More on Stern’s thoughts and our thoughts on some key regular season finale games this week can be seen in the latest edition of 805 Sports Talk.

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Sports Reporter