Santa Barbara High had circled Friday’s football game on its calendar ever since last year’s loss to Santa Ynez, but it also had plenty of marks on its game-planner:
Rev up the running game? Check.
Pressure the quarterback? Check.
Chuck a touchdown to Dakota Hill? Check.
The Dons filled all the boxes while rolling to a 34-0 homecoming victory at Scott O’Leary Stadium.
“We really felt that Santa Ynez derailed us last year, and they did,” Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone said. “Our kids were about taking care of business tonight.
“We had a goal in mind and we stuck to it and got the job done.”
Santa Barbara (5-2, 2-0 Channel League) outgained the Pirates (2-5, 0-2) in total yards, 342 to 97.
“That team returns almost everybody from last year, and that was a really athletic, talented team,” Santa Ynez coach Josh McClurg said. “I thought their defense played lights-out.
“My hat’s off to (defensive coordinator) Ralph Molina. That’s an example of these kids being in Ralph’s system for three years defensively, and it really showed. They were super-disciplined and super-fast up front.”
Santa Ynez quarterback Bennett Redell did complete his first five passes, although the Pirates’ second reception was fumbled away at their own 43-yard line after a 15-yard gain. Salomon Manzanarez recovered for Santa Barbara.
The Pirates connected on just four of 15 attempts after that, with both Dakota Hill and Sebastian Harris snagging interceptions.
The Dons also tackled Redell for a loss nine times, with Joshua Rosales recording three sacks and joining Charlie Figueroa on another.
“We saw on film that he’s very elusive,” Rosales said, “so one of our goals was to not let him get out of the pocket and make big runs.”
Santa Barbara’s offense, meanwhile, was a true balancing act, with 157 yards rushing and 185 passing.
The Dons ran the ball on nine of their first 11 plays, with Justin Perez getting the call six times for 45 yards. He finished with his first 100-yard game of the season (16 carries for 100 yards.).
“Our linemen have been holding their blocks lately and we’ve been working a lot on the run game in the last few practices,” Perez said. “We’ve got to keep improving that.”
Quarterback Deacon Hill ran it to the end zone from the 7-yard line with 3:55 to go in the first quarter for the game’s first touchdown.
The Dons needed just one play to score their next TD. A shanked punt set them up at the 37 and Hill found Jackson Gonzales roaming all alone along the left sideline. Gonzales took the pass and dashed 37 yards to the end zone with 2:30 left in the opening period.
He led Santa Barbara with four catches for 53 yards, with Deacon Hill completing 9-of-16 attempts for 185 yards.
Redell threw a pair of first-down passes to get Santa Ynez to midfield on its next possession, but another sack by Rosales helped stall the drive.
“Josh was a monster, and he came in and played some tight end, too,” Stone said. I think he’s going to get better as we get to the end of year and try to make the playoffs.
“He’s a player and he showed up tonight.”
Several injured Pirates were unable to show up all, forcing McClurg to summon five JVs for the contest. Punter Logan Ast, meanwhile, was unable to kick because of a hip-flexor injury. Moki Nacario fielded another shanked punt just inside the sideline and returned it 52 yards for Santa Barbara’s third TD with 9:51 remaining in the second period.
The Pirates also lost its long-snapper when Dean Tipolt, their star linebacker, suffered a knee bruise during the second quarter.
“It’s been like that all year, just one thing after another,” McClurg said. “But it’s no excuse. You still have to put on your pads and fight and play.”
Nacario added a 61-yard pass reception eight minutes later, but Anthony Gills stripped him from behind and Jacob Davies recovered at Santa Ynez’s own 21.
But another punt went just eight yards —the Pirates averaged only 19.5 yards on their eight kicks— giving the Dons possession at the Santa Ynez 24.
Deacon Hill found Dakota Hill against one-on-one coverage on the next play and hit him in stride on a slant pattern for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead with 38 seconds left before halftime. It was his first touchdown since the season opener against Buena, and he celebrated by yanking off his helmet and running the length of the Dons’ sideline. The three-year starter finished with three catches for 56 yards.
“I just wanted to let everybody know that I got a touchdown,” he said. “It’s been a while.
“On the route, I faked like I was going outside and came back in. Right as I looked, the ball was right there.”
The Pirates’ defense kept the game from getting out of control in the second half, although the Dons added one more score on a fourth-quarter march covering 55 yards. Perez finished the game as he had started it, rushing for 34 yards on the drive to set up another Deacon Hill TD run from the one-yard line.
“Our focus has been running the past two weeks,” Stone said. “We know we can throw the ball, but I think the biggest thing for us is that if we get to the playoffs, we’ve got to run the ball.”
They could take a big step toward the playoffs when they travel to Lompoc next Friday for a first-place showdown.
“This game really meant a lot to us,” Dakota Hill said, “but now it’s time to move on, and we’re looking toward playing Lompoc. We’re going to get ready for them this week.”