Santa Barbara High football started fast and never looked back, cruising to a 52-0 crosstown rivalry victory over Dos Pueblos on Friday at Scott O’Leary Stadium.
The dominant win for the Dons (7-2, 6-1) made it six victories in a row, and they remained in second place in the Channel League behind unbeaten Pacifica.
“We’re trying to keep our standards really high,” Santa Barbara coach Nate Mendoza said. “We’ve got big goals and we’re not really worried about who we’re playing, we just want to make sure that we play the right way.
“Hopefully we’re playing for a long time in November… We talked about it in the spring, we want to peak at the end of the year and it looks like we’re doing that, so we gotta finish the season strong.”
On the first drive of the game, the Dons found themselves in a 4th and 4 on the Dos Pueblos 40-yard line. Without hesitation, Mendoza left the offense on the field and Abel Renteria connected with Kai Mault for a 16-yard reception.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Santa Barbara. On the next play, Winston Bartley took a sweep 22 yards to set up Koa Herrera for a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
Herrera also punched in the two-point conversion to give his team an 8-0 lead with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
Following a three-and-out forced by the Dons, the first of five to begin the game for the Santa Barbara defense, Renteria aired one out on the first play of the drive, hitting Bartley down the sideline for a 34-yard reception.
It was deja vu for the Dons offense, as Herrera once again capped off the drive with a rushing touchdown, this one from 6 yards out.
A two-point conversion to Thomas Gil brought the lead up to 16-0 with 6:17 to go in the quarter.
The Santa Barbara defense continued to flex its muscles, holding the Chargers to -4 yards through their first two drives.
The Dons got another big play to spark their third scoring drive as Monty Lopez, primarily a cornerback, received a carry and swerved through the Dos Pueblos defense for a gain of 36.
“We all know Monty is a great athlete, and we’re trying to put the ball in good athlete’s hands,” Mendoza said.
Renteria then called his own number and barreled in for a 3-yard rushing touchdown. He also punched in the two-point conversion to make it 24-0 with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Another defensive stop gave the ball right back to the Dons offense, which continued the trend of scoring quickly.
On the first play of the second quarter and the second of the drive, Renteria showed off his arm strength and hit Bartley in stride for a 48-yard touchdown pitch and catch to go up 31-0 following the extra point.
“It’s good to see Abel make some outstanding throws,” Mendoza said of his quarterback.
The Chargers then followed up another three-and-out on offense with their first stop of Renteria and the Dons, forcing a 52-yard field goal attempt that fell short.
However, a failed drive led to another Dos Pueblos punt, putting the ball in the hands of the always-dangerous Mault.
Mault flagged down the punt and weaved his way down the field, taking it 60 yards the other way for a touchdown to extend the lead to 38-0 with 5:55 left in the half.
On the ensuing drive, the Chargers earned their first first down of the game, showcasing the strength of the Dons defensive front. Despite the slight momentum boost, they had to punt the ball back to Santa Barbara.
“I thought the boys played an excellent first half,” Mendoza said. “Defensively, wow, we didn’t give them much and the offense lit up the scoreboard.”
In fact, the Santa Barbara defense allowed just four total yards in the first half of play.
The Dons put the cherry on top of the first half when Renteria lofted a ball into the back corner of the endzone to Mault, who rose up and came down with his second score of the day.
When all was said and done, Renteria completed 12-of-19 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two rushes for seven yards and one touchdown.
The extra point made it 45-0 heading into the halftime locker room.
Due to the lopsided score, the second half featured a running clock.
Santa Barbara trotted out its starting offense for its first drive of the half, and they kept up the momentum from the first, leaning heavily on Koa Herrera.
On the drive, Herrera had four rushes for 58 yards and wrapped it up nicely with a 30-yard touchdown reception off a screen play throw by Renteria, bringing the score to 52-0, which would be the eventual final.
Herrera ended the night with 85 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards and three total touchdowns.
“Koa had a great game, he’s a great runner and a better kid,” Mendoza said.
The rest of the game went scoreless, as both offenses stuck to the run game and neither defense allowed a gain of double-digit yards.
“Our kids didn’t quit like always,” Dos Pueblos coach AJ Pateras said. “[Santa Barbara’s] the best team in our league, I don’t care what anybody says.
“Our league is tough and our kids are learning against some of the better programs in the southern section.”
It was Senior Night for the Chargers, as the school celebrated a group that is crucial to the future of the youthful program, according to Pateras.
“For us, it’s been the message of: prepare, show up, do it the right way and build these relationships and lay the foundation for what’s coming through the program,” Pateras said. “We’ve said ‘leave it better than when you found it’ and right now our seniors are doing a fantastic job of modeling that every day in practice.
“They haven’t stopped practicing hard, they haven’t stopped showing up, they’re being great leaders.”
The Dons will be back at home to take on Buena next week while the Chargers (3-6, 1-6) will wrap up the season hosting Rio Mesa.