Dustin Gregg went from a defensive stalwart one season to one of the top quarterbacks in the area the next.
Gregg, who was also a standout catcher on the Santa Ynez baseball team, made the transition look easy, not a job every 5-foot-8, 165-pound athlete could handle.
But there was Gregg, throwing 35 touchdown passes as a senior in 2017.
The diminutive signal-caller put together one of the top passing seasons the school has ever seen, if not the best.
During that 2017 season, one in which Gregg led the Pirates to an 8-2 record, he completed nearly 66% of his passes (149 for 227) for 2,566 yards and those school-record 35 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. The Pirates won their first seven games that year in dominant fashion and lost two of their last three by just 16 combined points.
Their reward? No playoff berth despite eight wins and a 2-2 Los Padres League record, a fact that still annoys just about every Pirate football supporter.
Gregg's season statistics would've looked even more fabulous if it wasn't for that hard-luck finale against St. Joseph. Gregg threw more interceptions than he had all season in that one game as St. Joseph picked him off five times in the 20-14 defeat. (The week before that, Gregg threw for a school record 422 yards on 21 of 25 passing with five touchdowns and no interceptions against Pioneer Valley).
That 2017 squad is likely the best Santa Ynez team over the past decade.
Gregg and the Pirates started the year with a 65-22 shellacking of San Marcos and followed it up with a 63-0 rout of Carpinteria. Then there was the 35-3 win over Nipomo and a 41-7 victory against Templeton. The Pirates then beat Santa Maria 49-12, Morro Bay 54-0 and Cabrillo 58-0.
Gregg's Pirates started the year 7-0 and outscored all those seven opponents by a combined 365-44. The Pirates then lost to Lompoc 17-7, beat Pioneer Valley 42-10 before narrowly losing to St. Joseph and missing out on the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Pirates moved to the Channel League not long after that as Santa Maria area and San Luis Obispo County schools transitioned to the CIF Central Section.
Back in Gregg's singular season, he also rushed for 333 yards and four scores. And, I'm sure the Santa Ynez coaching staff would point out, Gregg didn't fully transition away from defense that year. He still made 37 total tackles and intercepted two passes in 2017.
In 2016, Gregg backed up Mike McCoy, who was the Central Coast runner-up in the Player of the Decade contest. Gregg completed 6 of 10 passes as a junior for 84 yards, one touchdown and one interception, a far cry from his elite-caliber numbers he put up the following season.
Gregg was mainly used as a defensive back in 2016, coming up with 74 total tackles and an interception.
Gregg also hit .306 in 94 games on the Santa Ynez varsity baseball team and was named the Los Padres League MVP as a junior. Gregg was named the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2018.
Gregg's career at Santa Ynez is being highlighted as part of our "The Other Guys" series, which aims to feature standout football players who may have been overlooked during their careers. Submissions for athletes to be featured as part of the series can be sent to the author.
Player of the Decade: Get to know the greatest girls basketball players from the last decade
You didn't think we would stop with football, did you? We continue highlighting the greatest athletes in the history of the Central Coast with our Player of the Decade series, but this time we focus on girls basketball!
We have profiled 12 athletes for you to learn more about and the voting will start next week! Share the profiles, and the polls on your social media pages and let's continue the great participation and find out who your choice is for Player of the Decade.
Let's look at her sophomore and junior seasons with the Panthers. As a sophomore in 2017-18, Anielski scored 10.5 points per game and the Panthers went 3-22 overall and 0-14 in the PAC 8 League. There were some games that season where Anielski scored roughly half her team's points.
Basketball was not the only sport for Rylee Sager. Was it her best sport? Perhaps, though she was also a softball, golf and cross country standout at Lompoc High. In fact, Sager earned Los Padres League MVP honors in both basketball and softball and would go on to play softball at Sacramento State.
Syenna Ramirez mastered the art of getting better. Ramirez was a solid offensive contributor during her first two seasons at St. Joseph High. She scored about 8.5 points a game and added some rebounding and play-making with good, reliable defense. Then came Ramirez's junior year.
Though there are several more notable players, there's another, one who joined St. Joseph at the tail-end of its dominant run, that has yet to be discussed in the Player of the Decade conversation. That would be Flowers.
Back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, Tell helped lead a major turnaround at the school. In Tell's freshman season at PVHS, the Panthers went 2-10 in league. By her junior season, the Panthers were 10-2. By her senior season, the Panthers were 11-1 in league and crowned league champions.
Beebe became a top-10 recruit nationally after that junior season and committed to play for Stanford. But she suffered an ACL injury playing on the AAU circuit in July of 2011. The injury sidelined her for an entire year and she would never suit up for the Knights after that junior season.
King rehabbed for a year and made it back to the Pirate lineup as a senior in 2010-11, scoring 427 points that year and leading Santa Ynez to the Los Padres League title, the Pirates' most recent league championship in girls hoops.
Cooks blossomed into a standout early in her Righetti High career and turned that into a long and accomplished spell at Washington State, where she played four years of basketball with the Cougars.
She won three CIF-SS titles and one state championship. That's four more titles than the total league games she lost during her career. (Madrigal went 48-0 in league in high school).
You see, Estorga's game was so refined, that even though she played only 14 games her senior year, it was clear she was still the area's top offensive threat. After all, Estorga was voted the All-Area MVP, as chosen by the sports staff at the Times, the year before, as a junior in the 2015-16 season.
Though Dunlap had a reputation as an all-time great on defense, she may have been equally as good on offense. In her three seasons at St. Joseph, Dunlap scored over 1,300 points. During her senior season with the Knights, the 5-foot-8 guard averaged 23.7 points, 3.0 assists, 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game as the Knights went 19-9.
Swain was dominant at VCA, using her rare combination of size and skill to power the Lions to Coast Valley League titles and a career-defining CIF Southern Section championship in 2014.
Just look at the résumé: She earned All-Los Padres League honors all four years she played on varsity, being named to the Honorable Mention team as a freshman before landing on the First Team in her final three years, including the LPL Defensive MVP award in 2018 when she was a senior.
Herlihy is the third nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade award. She joins former Cabrillo standout Erin Jenkins, a two-time All-Area MVP, and Righetti graduate Molly Schlemer, who earned All-Big West honors with Cal Poly after starring at Righetti.
Schlemer is the second nominee for the Santa Maria Times' Player of the Decade award for girls basketball, joining the first, Erin Jenkins of Cabrillo High. The list of nominees is compiled by the sports staff at the Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News, which is polling current and former coaches and researching individual and team accolades. Players in graduating classes from 2010-2020 are eligible.
Jenkins was named the Times' All-Area MVP in 2017 and 2018, after her junior and senior years at Cabrillo High. Aly Beebe (2010 and '11) and Meghan Gnekow (2001 and '02) are the only other two players to do that this century. Both Beebe and Gnekow went on to sign with Pac-12 schools, Beebe joining Stanford and Gnekow playing for USC.
That winner is Nick Kimball. The former Nipomo High standout has been voted the Player of the Decade.
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