Thursday, September 17, 2015


Brent Peus and Santa Barbara High are off and running at 3-0. The Dons return to the field to take on traditional Ventura County power Rio Mesa (photo contributed). 
The last time Santa Barbara High School started 3-0 on the football field, the seniors on this year’s roster were between the ages of 8 to 9.

Now, for the first time since 2007, the Dons are off to a fast start and will welcome a traditional playoff contender from Oxnard to SBHS: Rio Mesa.

Both teams will have under-the-radar recruits on the field. Here’s a closer look:

ABOUT THE DONS: Santa Barbara has scored at will under second-year head coach J.T. Stone, averaging 52.6 points per game.

Conducting the Dons’ offensive orchestra is returning senior quarterback Brent Peus, who has dropped bombs on opposing defenses. Peus – who has received letters from Ivy League, Mountain West and PAC-12 programs – has emerged as one of the top deep ball throwers in the 805.

Two of Peus’ top weapons are 6-foot-4, 170-pound target Blake Kelly and 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mason Bigelow, who has not only won against man coverage schemes, but has shown excellent focus on the catches made against two defenders.

Defensively, the Dons have only allowed 15 points in three games. Outside linebacker Carter Soto leads the pass rush. Angel Velasquez and Donovan Zavaleta spearhead the secondary. Both combined for three interceptions in the 52-7 trouncing of Channel Islands on Sept. 11 at Peabody Stadium.

ABOUT THE SPARTANS: Rio Mesa has recovered nicely from its 51-17 debacle against Camarillo with back-to-back victories over San Marcos (Goleta) and an upset over traditional 805 powerhouse Ventura.

Since the Camarillo loss, the Spartans have given up a combined 17 points on defense. Safety Jonathan Lenard, who committed to San Diego State in July and holds eight other offers, leads Rio Mesa’s defense.

Offensively, Josiah King leads the ground attack with 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry in the 21-10 win over Ventura. Stevie Houston is the Spartans’ go-to-guy at wide receiver. His 6-foot-3 frame makes him valuable on third and long and red zone situations, but he also comes with a 4.5 40-yard dash time and can use it to his advantage. 

BEST MATCHUP: Brent Peus versus Jonathan Lenard. This will be the first time this year that Peus will go against a national recruit on the opposite side of the field.

DON’T SLEEP ON: Christopher Jellison. Nicknamed “Tick,” the Class of 2017 wide receiver prospect Jellison is an electrifying playmaker equipped with juke moves and velocity after the catch.

GAME INFORMATION: The contest at Peabody Stadium starts at 7 p.m.

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