The Santa Barbara High School football team wasted no time in making quick work of crosstown rival Dos Pueblos on Friday night at Peabody Stadium, routing the Chargers 49-0 and setting up a showdown that could decide the Channel League crown next week against Buena.
“We told the kids this week we really just wanted them to execute and be good at what we do and execute our plays, and we felt like tonight we did that, scoring 49 points and giving up 0, so it was really about execution tonight,” Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone said after the game.
With the win, Santa Barbara improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in Channel League play.
The Dons are in control of their own destiny from this point forward, as there is currently a four-way tie for first place in the league. Rio Mesa beat Pacifica on Friday 24-7, giving both those teams a 5-1 league record along with the Buena Bulldogs, who Santa Barbara will travel to play next Friday at 7 p.m.
“Coach always says you can’t look past anyone. He believes that anyone can lose on any given day so we respect all our opponents and we just wanted to get it done tonight,” junior quarterback Abel Renteria told Noozhawk after the game. “But now, I’m really excited. Next week, that’s like the game of the week and we need to get through that game to be good for playoffs so, it’s going to be like a Super Bowl, like a championship caliber game.”
It was the final home game of the regular season for the Dons, and Renteria made sure to give the crowd a show.
He passed for 203 yards and three touchdowns, completing 12 of 14 passes. He also rushed the ball four times for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dons defense was also strong, allowing just three first downs all game, notching three sacks, intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble.
Both interceptions were courtesy of junior defensive back Julian Espinoza.
Santa Barbara scored on five of its seven possessions in the first half. The Dons’ first touchdown of the game came after junior running back Koa Herrera broke multiple tackles on the way to a 20-yard score.
The second touchdown came courtesy of a Renteria 21-yard strike to junior wideout Winston Bartley, who adjusted well and caught the pass at the left corner of the end zone.
After a fumble in the previous possession, the Dons locked back in and drove the ball 71 yards in six plays, capped off by a Renteria 6-yard touchdown for a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
After forcing another three and out to start the second quarter, Santa Barbara slowed its pace, taking 10 plays to drive the ball 58 yards and take a 28-0 lead following a Renteria touchdown toss to senior running back Nathan Barrios.
Then, just before the half, Renteria threw a quick screen to Bartley, who made one man miss and then outran the rest of the defense to house a 63-yard touchdown and give his team a 35-0 intermission lead.
“We knew coming in what it was going to be like and we knew what we had to do to get the job done. This game was just about trying to execute and to just try to get better as a team and I think we did that,” Renteria said.
Renteria’s final touchdown came with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, as the junior executed a read option to perfection, fooling the defense and taking off for a 53-yard score, the longest of his career.
In all four rush attempts, Renteria ran the read option to perfection, keeping the ball without the defense even realizing he had done so.
“It’s just a classic read for me and it just happened to be that every time I kept it, they couldn’t tell. I was surprised myself, even my teammates didn’t even know I had the ball,” he said.
Following the long touchdown run, Stone rested his offensive starters. But that didn’t stop the young talent from making plays. In the fourth quarter, sophomore receiver Sammy Congdon hauled in a beautiful 25-yard pass from Laird Finkle, a freshman and the JV starting quarterback, for a 49-0 lead.
The Dons would run out the clock following that touchdown.
“One thing about this high school is we are loaded with some young talent, and tonight we got to bring some kids up to play,” said Stone. “Laird stepped in and played well, then Congdon. This school has got some solid players for the next two to three years.”
Dos Pueblos coach A.J. Pateras told Noozhawk the teams that have seen success in the Channel League have coaches who have been able to stay long enough to build a culture.
Pateras, who is just in his second year, said he is looking forward to doing the same.
“We played eight sophomores tonight and we got a lot of juniors on the field, so for us, it’s about teaching and coaching and I’m never going to stop doing what I was raised to do in terms of coaching football and putting our kids in the best situation we think to compete,” he said.
“We’re teaching tackling, we’re teaching blocking, we’re teaching guys how to understand where they are on the field and how to play the right way. When we can learn how to do those things effectively and more consistently, the football stuff gets easier.”
Pateras also hopes to close the year strong for their seniors, including Cairo Rios, a wide receiver who hauled in two catches for 40 yards.
“We got some good seniors in our program and we’re going to continue to honor their commitment to the program and make sure that they have a very positive finish to their high school career,” Pateras said.
Dos Pueblos closes out its season next week at Rio Mesa.