Tough year, tougher Raiders

CI football players hang in there during 0-10 season


CI head football coach Gary Porter with some of his players at the Fall Sports Rally

It’s a wrap for the 2022 football season here at Channel Islands High School.

Football has been going on for a very long time here at Channel Islands, with support from Raiders no matter where they are. But this year’s team had to endure some struggles.

After two close losses to open the season, the Raiders went 0-8 in Channel League play to finish the year 0-10.

Coach Gary Porter is the Channel Islands varsity football coach. After graduating from the Islands, he came back years later to teach here and coach the team. He has been coaching football here at CI for 20 years, and he’s also taught Youth Football at the Islands for 8 years. 

Porter has always had a passion for football and all of that passion disperses to the students he’s teaching. He’s had a lot of faith in his crew because he sees the hard work they’ve put in day after day during this season. 

“I want them to have the same experience I had with football. I want them to know that they’re winners, because winners will never quit and these kids never [did],” he said. “They kept going through all of [the] negativity. They never stopped.”

While the rest of CI’s sports teams moved to the Citrus Coast League this year, the football team had to stay in the Channel League, making the season harder for them. 

Starting off the season, CI had a game against Santa Paula, which ended in a close 26-20 loss. The next game was with Carpinteria, and this game also left CI very close to winning (16-13). Once Channel League play started, however, the Raiders were only able to score seven points in eight games.

Still, many athletes did outstanding jobs playing.  Running back Brian Cabrera, a senior, scored three touchdowns for this season and averaged 63.9 yards per game. Kaleb Harrison, another senior,  scored one touchdown this season and he averaged 31 yards per game. Daniel Ortega, a senior, led the defense with seven  tackles per game. 

Esteban Gonzalez, a senior at Channel Islands and number 77 for varsity, stated, “This was one of the hardest seasons we had. It was the toughest, and roughest, but we got through it and we kept going no matter what. I want to thank my players because they stuck through this season, [because] they were there with us every step of the way. Through the practices and through the games.”

Gonzalez averaged four tackles per game and led the team with two sacks. 

Ivan Rodriguez, another senior here at the Islands and number 11 for varsity, said, “It’s a struggle waking up everyday knowing you’re gonna give it all out at practice, but it’s not the same on the field. It’ll never be the same because of the different people that you’re playing with. But you keep your head up and keep going, even if you know you’re not [giving] your all, or if you are [giving] it your all. No matter what was on the scoreboard, we just kept trying and that’s what matters.”

Rodriguez averaged 5.4 tackles per game.

Coach Porter said the hardest part of coaching football is that “it’s on your time and it relies on you.” Porter also states that the hardest thing for the teammates to encounter is “not getting the instant gratification” that he wants them to feel. 

Porter noticed what these kids have gone through. The recognition they never got along with the sweat, tears, and pain within the season. The only recognition they got was what other people saw during the games, not what the players personally went through. Every day the players touched Porter’s heart; they inspire and motivate him to keep on coaching football. 

“You don’t understand what those kids mean to me,” he said.

Porter is amazed at how these kids have pushed through during this rough season.  

“These kids have fought their way into our hearts this season,” he said. “They deserve more recognition for what they’ve done, because football isn’t just a struggle, but it’s something that you dedicate your heart into. It’s something you dedicate your time into and definitely dedicate your mind to it as well.

“They get up on Monday every day of the week, [and] they pour everything they have into the field. They’re more than just kids that played football. They’re kids who actually were focused and dedicated to football, and I’m proud of them.”