After showcasing his talents throughout Southern California during his junior campaign, Santa Barbara High quarterback Deacon Hill will look to wow spectators in Honolulu.
Earlier this week, Hill was selected as a Polynesian Bowl All-Star. The current Don and future Wisconsin Badger is excited for a chance to compete alongside other members of the Class of 2021, as well as have the opportunity to meet family and friends while his father, Pe’a, has a chance to return home.
Hill, who is half Samoan, told the News-Press he is looking forward to meeting some of his dad’s old friends, as well as several cousins he has yet to meet in person. He was notified of the selection last week and the college sports site 247sports.com made the official announcement with an article on the Santa Barbara standout.
“It means a lot to us because it shows that if you work hard enough you go to things like this,” Hill said. “It proves that you can do what you want to do if you put in the right amount of work. I’m not from the biggest football town or the biggest publicity town, but as long as you’re doing what you’re supposed to do they will find you.”
The game is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2021.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread closures and cancellations, Hill was participating in passing drills and football camps. He now finds himself doing much more cardio and bodyweight exercises as he waits for football activities to resume.
Hill said his cardio routine has him traversing city streets and ending up at the high school, which offers a view of the ongoing construction at Peabody Stadium.
“It looks really good,” he said. “Hopefully it will be done. It should be, but with all this going on you never know.”
After losing three key senior wide receivers to graduation, Hill admitted there is pressure to prepare for the season. He knows just how important spring practices could be for a young squad.
“We graduated like 30 seniors, but hopefully this all ends right before summer starts,” he said.
Hill and coach J.T. Stone have exchanged texts in recent weeks, mainly focusing on the playbook. They have also discussed what the 2020 season may look like, which include an abbreviated schedule or the cancellation of early season games.
Hill, who shared the Channel League Co-MVP award with teammate Noach Wood in 2019, led the Golden Tornado (11-3, 5-0) to their first outright league championship since 2001. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and had 22 touchdown passes in the regular season. He led Santa Barbara to the CIF-SS Div. 8 final against Sunny Hills, though he threw an interception in the end zone with 19 seconds remaining as the Lancers won the title 24-21.
“I think about that game everyday,” Hill said. “The final play of my junior year, the final play of that game and the final play for those seniors in their last game.
“It’s just… when you work out that’s all you can really think about, so it pushes you to go harder. I’ve already talked with my best friend, Justin (Perez), the running back and we’ve talked about getting back to that game and we’re going to win it this time.”
Hill committed to Wisconsin before last season began. He said it took some pressure off him and let him go out and just play — but his early commitment also put a target on his back. He had never played a full season but said that it helped him stay dedicated to his craft.
When the pandemic ends and things return to normal, Hill said he plans on taking his official visit to Madison, Wisconsin, marking his third trip to the campus. After being forced to play on the road all of last season, Hill also has his sights set on opening night at Peabody Stadium, whenever that may be.
“This senior class and below have never had a true home game,” he said. “We’ve always been playing away, even our freshmen year. When you walked into that old stadium, you could feel that there’s a bunch of tradition here and this stadium has been here forever.
“I think being able to start a new tradition on that same field is going to be truly great.”