Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The new Don of Santa Barbara

Brent Peus of Santa Barbara High didn't take long to learn a new coach and got the Dons to nearly return to the playoffs in 2014. Now, the Class of 2016 prospect could become the most highly recruited SBHS quarterback since Randall Cunningham (photo contributed).
There was no "dead period" for Brent Peus and the Santa Barbara High School varsity football team during the moment JT Stone was promoted to interim head coach in July 2014.

The Dons had to learn their new leader quick, all while waiting for him to officially roam the practice field on Aug. 4 due to the CIF period that prohibits coaches and teams from practicing with one another.

But the Dons' third-year varsity quarterback had immediate faith in Stone, plus he already had a relationship with the record-breaking quarterback from Dos Pueblos-Goleta that started when Peus was in the sixth grade.

"He knew what he was doing because he's been there. He's not some guy off the street," Peus said.

Peus was part of Stone's training venture Big Picture Athletics, which helps Central Coast players prepare for camps, tournaments and their upcoming season. Peus began working with Stone as a 12-year-old. Through Stone's training and expertise, Peus got his promotion to be the starting varsity quarterback of the Dons during his freshman year.

Now, despite a 4-6 finish that saw the Dons end their year with a frustrating 27-20 loss to rival San Marcos-Goleta, Peus said he thinks Santa Barbara High is in better hands with Stone at the helm.

"We're a program on the rise," Peus said. "Coach JT has turned around this program so much. He came in to us during our dead period and we had no time [to prepare] really. But he's a great coach and he connects well with kids."

Stone shattered school passing records at both Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara City College before moving on to West Texas A&M. The 37-year-old was named head coach of the Dons after the program parted ways with Doug Caines in July, who went 12-9 in two seasons at SBHS. Peus said Stone kept the same offensive scheme in tact.

"He told us we would keep our spread and zone running game," Peus said. "But he did add some option plays."

Before the season and the coaching change, Fox Sports online website scout.com highlighted Peus as "one to watch" through a June 2 story. The feature pinpointed Peus' size, arm and mobility as his strengths.

He was able to maximize those gifts in the Dons' offense this past season.

"I've improved a ton sitting in the pocket. I've also improved with making my reads and taking shots down the field. I also understand situational football now [third downs and two-minute offenses]," Peus said.

Peus helped lead the Dons to two key victories over Rio Mesa and Royal-Simi Valley; two CIF Southern Section playoffs teams this season. Peus' arm and scrambling ability kept things close in the Bronze Cup game against San Marcos, as the 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior tossed three touchdown passes.

He's not only become a quarterback to watch during the offseason, he could be the Dons' best signal caller since Randall Cunningham, who was a former SBHS and NFL star.

But Peus - who holds a 4.6 grade point average and has gotten interest from Ivy League teams, Washington State, San Diego State and Boise State - said he's aiming to build his game and market himself in front of college coaches this offseason.

"I would like to improve my mobility a lot more, especially in zone reads," Peus said. "I'll have some good film from this season. I've now got to grind harder this offseason and go to as many camps as I can."

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