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Central Coast Classic: Pioneer Valley's Kenneth Hoobery had a hit to remember in 2017

Central Coast Classic: Pioneer Valley's Kenneth Hoobery had a hit to remember in 2017

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Bidding to become the first Santa Maria football team ever to beat a Pioneer Valley squad, the Saints held a slight third-quarter lead in this 2017 crosstown rivalry game at Pioneer Valley.

A spectator, waving a Santa Maria flag, suddenly ran onto the gridiron. Santa Maria athletic director Brian Wallace was in pursuit.

With the spectator in full stride, Pioneer Valley linebacker Kenneth Hoobery took a step forward and flattened him.

Saints football: Santa Maria gets historic first win over Pioneer Valley, beating Panthers in 14th try

The hit subsequently went viral and got some play online via clips posted by the Santa Maria Times. Sports Illustrated had a piece entitled, “Run onto the other team’s field, be prepared to get lit up.”

Pioneer Valley, scoring the last 13 points, ultimately won 32-28. The spectator Hoobery flattened was later identified as a Santa Maria student.

The student, who seemed unharmed afterward (that might not have been the case had Hoobery weighed in at, say, 200 pounds instead of the 180 he was listed at on the Pioneer Valley roster), was ultimately suspended from school because of his action.

Meanwhile, Hoobery became something of a campus celebrity afterward. He seemed to take that in stride.

“When someone is invading your home field, you have to defend it,” Hoobery said to a reporter.

Santa Maria officials later chastised the interloper for his actions, stating that the gridiron belonged to players, not spectators. Besides, then-Santa Maria principal Joe Domingues said, “We had momentum and (the student running onto the field and the short aftermath) stalled the momentum.”

The student who ran onto the field, at least a few days thereafter, seemed unrepentant in quotes to a reporter.

Emmanuel Alcantar scored the winning touchdown for the Panthers when he burst through a hole and scored from 25 yards out at the 1:59 mark of the fourth quarter.

Alcantar finished with 133 yards, and two touchdowns, rushing. Pioneer Valley quarterback Matt Garcia threw for 271 yards and two scores.

After being run ragged by Santa Maria quarterback Blake Truhitte, the Panthers defense ramped up the pressure on him after Pioneer Valley went in front.

After another loss the following week, the Saints, after a bye week, went on a roll.

They beat Nipomo for the league championship and ultimately hosted a sectional divisional playoff game for the first time.

Santa Maria lost to Big Bear in front of an overflow crowd at the Saints’ Ralph Baldiviez Stadium on the Santa Maria campus in the CIF Southern Section Division 12 championship game.

Pioneer Valley made the divisional playoffs too, but went out early.

That year was the last for both teams in the CIF Southern Section. The Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley programs joined the vast majority of Central Coast sports programs that joined the Central Section in 2018.

Santa Maria finally got that first football win over Pioneer Valley, 10-6 in 2019.

Garcia and Hoobery went on to play for Hancock. After playing on the defensive line his freshman year, Garcia moved to his customary quarterback spot for his sophomore year at Hancock.

He started the year as a back-up, eventually won the starting job and made his first start in Hancock’s fourth game of the season. Garcia threw a touchdown pass in Hancock’s 14-9 win over Mt. San Jacinto in the Western State Bowl at Righetti High School.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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