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Elliott Stern

While fall is still a relatively long way off, it’s already football season in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Santa Ynez High School head coach Josh McClurg and his coaching staff just hosted a football clinic for young players, ages seven to 14, last Saturday at the high school stadium.

We’ll have more on that in our next edition of the Valley News.

Coach McClurg and Co. held their parents meeting for incoming freshmen players on Tuesday, May 7.

And that leads up to spring practice.

The spring practice period began Monday and runs through Thursday, May 23.

There is a mandatory practice dead period for all schools from July 5-29 and then it’s back to the practice field, time to gear up for the 2019 season.

The Pirates’ season begins at home on Friday, Aug. 23, with a non-league game against Nipomo at Santa Ynez High.

Also coming up, the annual Rio Memorial Golf Tournament.

The tournament is a tribute to father-and-son Carl and Jeff Rio.

It’s also a fundraiser for SYHS football.

There’s still time to register for the tournament, held this year on Saturday, June 8, at the River Course at the Alisal.

Hosted by Santa Ynez Football Boosters Inc., the event honors the Rios.

Carl Rio was a longtime SYHS football coach. He died in 2016 after battling cancer.

His son, Jeff, was a former player and assistant coach for the Pirates who died in a car accident near Gaviota in 1996. 

The Pirates dedicated Jeff Rio Memorial Rock, the famed boulder football players touch before entering Pirate Stadium, in Jeff's honor and the Jeff Rio Memorial Golf Tournament began soon after his death.

After several years, the boosters took a break from the tournament but they brought it back last year.

The money raised helps the Pirates’ football program.

The entry fee is $200 for the four-person, best-ball scramble.

The entry fee covers one round of golf, a golf cart, goodie bag, a hole-in-one contest and a Santa Ynez Valley tri-tip and chicken dinner. A complimentary bucket of range balls is also included. 

If you want to skip the golf but still support Pirates football, you can purchase a dinner-only ticket for $50.

At the dinner, there will be a raffle and a live auction.

Tee-sign sponsorships and corporate sponsorships available (they come with two foursomes) are still available.

The tournament begins at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start.

Registering is easy — just go to and you’re on your way to a great day at the 6,830-yard, par 72 Alisal.

Away from football, the Help Wanted sign is out at Santa Ynez High.

With the retirement on longtime teacher and coach Steve Gunning, the school needs a new boys head tennis coach for both the varsity and JV teams.

If you’re interested, contact Athletic Director Cris Avery at 805-686-3566 or


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