|Buena (Ventura) defenders Moises Vargas (No. 1), Mason Beling (No. 22) and Rick Lopez swarm and drag down Santa Barbara wide receiver Chris Jellison during the Bulldogs' 28-21 road win (photo by Lorenzo Reyna).|
They faced a deep wide receiving core, had their best defender double teamed on the line of scrimmage throughout the night, but in the end the Buena (Ventura) Bulldogs are prowling toward the Channel League title after holding off Santa Barbara 28-21 in a defensive battle on Friday, Oct. 23 at Peabody Stadium.
Buena (6-2, 2-0 CL), kept a talented core of Santa Barbara Don wideouts in check. Despite seeing Mason Bigelow and Chris Jellison combine for four receptions of 20 yards or more, the Bulldog defense built the stonewall and limited scoring opportunities against an offense that came in averaging 39.6 points per game.
And some of Buena’s biggest defensive plays came from a novice at defensive end: highly-wanted linebacker Dru Mathis, who finished with two sacks while firing off from a three-point stance.
“We went out there and did our best. They were a passing team so we had to get our best pass rush from the defensive line – and this is my first year of playing on the d-line, so I had to step up to the challenge,” Mathis said. “It’s kind of hard (playing defensive end), but it’s also kind of fun especially when you get sacks like tonight.”
Past Buena games have seen the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Mathis line up at the will linebacker spot and go in destruction mode. But this season, he’s the Khalil Mack for the Bulldogs as he’s been utilized in a hybrid role.
“It is a pretty nice position, but it comes with a lot of technique,” Mathis said. “I was in a three-point stance for most of this game so it’s different for me, but it’s good for me. I’m bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else and people can see me rush from the edge.”
Mathis, though, doesn’t want the light to illuminate on him. And this is Ventura County’s top college football defensive prospect who has seen the spotlight a lot because of 13 scholarship offers; plus late interest from Washington, Buffalo and Purdue surfacing.
“When they (Santa Barbara) put the attention on me, it opened the door for our other players. And it led to a team effort for our defense,” Mathis said. “We won’t work individually, we work as a team.”
Juan Gaytan provided some game-shifting moments with a recovered fumble that went 25 yards to the SB 1-yard line and then scored a 1-yard run on the next play to make it 21-14. Cornerback Anthony Castillo was rarely tested and helped limit the big play opportunities that SB has been known for throughout the year.
“We knew it was going to be a good game because they got a great passing game. But our defense and DB’s held it down,” the 5-foot-8 Castillo said.
Buena has not had a perfect league season since 2009, when the Bulldogs went 5-0 in the CL and Mathis watched his illustrious older brother Kendrick lead BHS to league perfection.
Not only are the Bulldogs at the halfway mark of a 4-0 league season, but the 53rd annual Buena-Ventura game on Nov. 6 could decide the league title, since the Cougars currently sit at 2-0 in the league standings after trouncing San Marcos (Goleta) 49-7.
TRAP GAMES? WHAT TRAP GAMES FOR LOMPOC?
In the last two weeks, Lompoc High players heard how Santa Ynez and St. Joseph (Santa Maria) would challenge and perhaps trip up the Braves, since both were either unbeaten or nursing one loss before heading to Huyck Stadium.
Well, the Braves (7-1, 2-0 in league) have not only cleared those two hurdles, but put up 42 points in back-to-back routs of the Pirates and Knights, with the latest a 42-21 onslaught of St. Joseph on Oct. 23.
And this was a Braves team down 21-14 at halftime, before pouring on 28 unanswered points in the Los Padres League battle.
Head coach Andrew Jones, who is the proud owner of three Southern Section titles including one title he won as the quarterback of the 2002-03 team, told the Santa Maria Times that this game is the defining moment of the year for his team.
"When you're in a big-time game like this, playing such a great team, and you're down, you've got two options: You can quit, or you can fight back," Jones told the SM Times. "And our guys just fought back. That was impressive."
DINUBA QUARTERBACK GOES THREE WAYS AGAINST SELMA
Before the season, Dinuba High quarterback Isaac Leppke was hailed as a throwing and running threat for the Emperors.
But now, you can receiving threat, as the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder caught three passes for 58 yards and a 14-yard touchdown reception in Dinuba’s 20-14 Central Sequoia League win over an improved Selma team. He finished with 12 of 17 passing for 157 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
But it was his receiving ability that fooled the Bears.
“It was actually really fun to perform as an athlete,” Leppke said. “I told my team that I wanted to do whatever was best for them so that we could start turning the season around. I'm trying to be more of a team player and use my athleticism to make that change happen. I feel like my speed can be used for a lot of things and it really showed that night.”
Leppke already looks like a possession target with his tall frame. He also comes with hops, proven by his recent appearance in the CIF State Track and Field championships in the hurdles.
ALL IS WELL AT CLOVIS HIGH FOLLOWING THE AFTERMATH OF A CONTROVERSIAL LOSS
There was no lightning illuminating the night time sky, no 40-hour postponement and lastly, no 13 on 11 disadvantage, as Clovis High rumbled to a 34-13 trouncing over Buchanan at Lamonica Stadium.
The beat down came off the heels of one of the most bizarre Central Section games in recent memory that even saw the USA Today post a story. Central High had handed Clovis its first loss of the year 21-20. But on at least five plays, the Grizzlies lined up with as many as 13 defenders on the field. No penalty for too many men on the field was called and the film went straight to the CIF Central Section office.
This time, the Cougars (7-1, 2-1 in league) went to the ground attack and defense to tame the Bears in this Tri-River Athletic Conference rivalry game. Two-way athlete Josh Hokit scored two rushing touchdowns on a night that saw Clovis rack up 222 rushing yards; 176 of them coming in the first half.
Jared Hill, Tanner Rice and defensive end A.J. Nevills helped contribute to the defensive charge, as Clovis held Buchanan to 89 passing yards.
Clovis now has a heavyweight showdown against league unbeaten Clovis North on Oct. 30 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.