Moki Nacario
Moki Nacario of Santa Barbara takes on a Channel Islands defender after catching a pass from quarterback Deacon Hill. (Isaiah Valenzuela photo)

Freshly minted as the No.1-ranked team in CIF Division 8, Santa Barbara High made sure it would remain the coin of the realm for at least another week with a dominating 55-7 win over Channel Islands on Friday night at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.

Wisconsin commit Deacon Hill and the rest of the Dons’ offense exerted their usual inflationary pressure on the scoreboard, scoring on every possession but one as they rolled to a 48-0 lead. And the one possession that came up short only did so with a fumble lost at the goal line.

A smothering Santa Barbara defense, meanwhile, forced Channel Islands into a deep recession. The Raiders had only minus-10 yards total offense against 365 for the 3-0 Dons after they scored for the seventh time with four minutes left in the half. Clearly, it would take more than Donald Trump and a Sharpie to turn this into a competitive game.

That said, the particulars of the contest do bear analysis in adding to the growing legacy that the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hill is stamping on his junior year. Hill completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns and ran four times for 44 yards and two scores. It should also be noted that the Dons rarely did more than connect on simple swing passes in order to produce double-digit yardage and attempted only three passes in the second half — all on their first drive.

Moki Nacario, Jake Knecht, and Jackson Gonzalez were on the receiving end of Hill’s TD throws. Ty Montgomery, Justin Perez and Robert Boyton handled the other running touchdowns and a running clock sped the game mercifully forward after a 6-yard run by Hill capped the night’s scoring early in the third quarter.

Anthony Simon

Anthony Simon of the Dons looks for more yardage while running on a jet sweep. (Isaiah Valenezuela photo)

Eight Dons carried the ball, totaling 195 yards, while eight receivers caught passes, led by Knecht with 111 yards. Channel Island’s lone score came late in the first half after a short kickoff and 28-yard runback by Axel Pina put the Raiders in Dons’ territory for the first time. On fourth down, Cody Hoffman grabbed a pass from Diego Juarez, bounced off a defender and ran in for a 24-yard score.

“We didn’t have to pull out the whole playbook,” said SBHS coach J.T. Stone. “The RPO (run-pass-option) was working and Deacon was reading it well. We got a lot of 10-yard plays and I always tell the guys that’s just fine. It was very efficient.”

Stone also had high praise for his defense, which held the Raiders without a first down (except for two on penalties) until the final minutes of the half and so completely throttled the running game that more than half of Channel Islands’ runs failed to reach the line of scrimmage and only two passes totaling 7 yards were completed.

Liam Tormey made a highlight film interception in close coverage and Noah Wood pounced on a fumble to produce another big defensive moment. But this was truly one of those “team effort” games since literally everyone on the Dons roster saw action.

“Liam did not practice well this week and I had to have a talk with him,” said Stone. “He played a lot tonight and played well. That was good to see because we’re going to need him. And Noah Wood is just plain playing great, better than any D-lineman I know of.

“A lot of guys got game experience tonight and that’s good,” he added, “because we’re going to need them before the year is out.”

Santa Barbara faces its toughest test of the season to date next week when it plays host to St. Bonaventure at San Marcos. Channel Islands drops to 0-3.