Not surprising, they were on the field a lot, which was a big reason the Cardinals went 12-1, won the Tri-Valley League championship, and beat two large public schools en route to the semifinals of the CIF-SS Northern Division playoffs.
Bennett is this year’s Offensive Player of the Year and Shotwell is the Defensive Player of the Year on the Presidio Sports All-City Football team.
The Team of the Month Series spotlights great
examples of teamwork in the local sports community
— Presented by Sansum Clinic —
These two Cardinals are the definition of the term impact player.
Bennett put fear in defenses every time he touched the ball.
“The most impressive thing about AV was that, no matter the situation, when he was on the field and got to touch the ball, everyone on both sides held their breath,” Bishop coach Tom Crawford said.
His statistics bear the proof. Bennett amassed 1,726 total yards and scored 16 touchdowns. As a flanker, he rushed for 505 yards and scored 4 TDs on 32 carries and caught 29 passes for 513 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, he picked off five passes and returned three of them for scores. As a returner on special teams, he took three punts to the house and one kickoff return.
“One of the most exciting, if not the most dynamic guys we’ve had and, of course, opponents did everything they could to keep the ball away from him,” said Crawford. “I loved his versatility in terms of doing so many things at a high level. He has an offer to be part of the University of San Diego squad, and is being evaluated by a couple FBS schools for football and/or track. The fact he is a fine student gives him some options as to his future.”
Bennett is also the reigning CIF Division 3 champion in the 100 and 200 meters.
Shotwell led the charge on defense for the Cardinals and provided some big plays on offense as well.
“The words ’motor’ and ‘passion’ come to mind when speaking about Matt,” Crawford said. “From his freshmen year, his physical development and improvement in strength and speed have been pretty unsurpassed. But it flows from Matt’s year-long work ethic and his simple love of the sport. As a leader, his energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and I’m not sure we’ve had a kid play so many plays in games with such consistency. He was a tackling machine and he was almost always as strong, if not tougher, in the fourth quarter than he was in the first.”
When he shot the gap from his middle linebacker spot, running backs and quarterbacks usually went down in a hurry. If there was a crush of players around a ball carrier, Shotwell was usually the one at the bottom of the pile with his arms wrapped around the ball carrier’s legs.
“I know for a fact that he jumped out at opponents when they saw tape and you’d hear opposing offenses yelling to block No. 42,” said Crawford.
Shotwell led the Cardinals with 124 solo tackles and 52 assists.
He also played a big part in Bishop’s productive offense as a running back, picking up tough yards on the ground, catching passes, throwing big blocks to spring Mike Soracco, John Harris or Bennett and even throwing a pass. He completed a touchdown pass in the second-round playoff win over Palmdale.
“Everyone around Matt was made a better player and a better teammate by Matt. He’s just a great young man to be around,” said Crawford.
Shotwell has an offer from Cal Poly and is receiving interest from other schools.
The players on the All-City Football Team are chosen by the Presidio Sports staff. The entire team will be presented at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheon in the Ranchero Room at Harry’s Cafe on Monday, January 4. Lunches are free for student-athletes and $10 for family and the public.
THE 2015 ALL-CITY FOOTBALL TEAM
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Offensive MVP: AV Bennett, Bishop Diego
Defensive MVP: Matt Shotwell, Bishop Diego
QB — Brent Peus, Sr., Santa Barbara: He had a tremendous senior season, passing for 3,052 yards and 34 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. He completed an astonishing 71 percent of his passes (207 of 290). Peus finished as Santa Barbara’s all-time career passer with 6,846 yards and set a county and school record with 569 completions in a career.
RB — Mike Soracco, Sr., Bishop Diego: Once he learned the offensive system, the powerful Soracco became the Cardinals’ primary ball carrier and flourished. “He simply wore opponents down with his physical, punishing style,” said coach Tom Crawford. Soracco rushed for 1,404 yards on 220 carries and scored 18 touchdowns. He was a beast in two playoff wins, rushing for 233 yards against Newbury Park and 194 against Palmdale.
RB — John Harris, Soph., Bishop Diego: Coach Crawford said it best about Harris: “In the toughest of games, John was a player who we could count on to rise up and make the biggest plays.” Despite missing a few games to an injury, Harris rushed for 620 yards on just 63 carries and scored 8 touchdowns. As a receiver, he caught 10 passes for 210 yards on five scores.
RB — Manny Nwosu, Sr., Dos Pueblos: Nwosu developed into a solid performer for the Chargers. He rushed for 820 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 carries and caught 41 passes for 481 yards and four scores. “He carried the offense on his shoulders in some games,” said coach Nate Mendoza.
WR — Mason Bigelow, Sr., Santa Barbara: Time after time Bigelow came up with big catches to lift the Dons. He was the top receiver in the county, one of the best in the CIF Western Division and rated top 50 in the state. He caught 71 passes for 1,008 yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR — Chris “Tick” Jellison, Jr., Santa Barbara: He was absolutely fearless going after passes. “Tick is one of the most exciting players in the 805,” said coach JT Stone. Jellison finished the season with 50 receptions, 955 yards and 12 touchdowns. “Next to Mason, he is tops in the county and finishes top 50 in the state during the regular season.
WR — Blake Erwin, Jr., Dos Pueblos: A reliable, versatile and tough player for the Chargers. He was a hybrid receiver-running back this season and led the team with 44 receptions.
OL — Hector Nolasco, Jr., Bishop Diego: Nolasco played with great passion and did a tremendous job opening holes for the running backs. Coach Crawford called him a coach on the line. “Hector is one of the best underclass linemen we’ve had, combining great feet, strength and a physical style of play,” he said
OL — Gavin Callow, Jr., Bishop Diego: “His development as a top-level lineman is clearly one reason our team had so much success running the football,” said Crawford.
OL — Andy Lopez, Sr., Santa Barbara: A three-year starter, Lopez was solid run blocker and protector of the quarterback. “Andy was the bright sport on our O-Line and helped our football team improve to a 6-4 record,” said coach JT Stone.
OL — Erik Botello, Sr. Dos Pueblos: Botello played four years on the varsity and was consistent performer. He earned all-Channel League honors two straight years and was a two-year captain.
OL — Jose Pancho Sanchez, Sr., Carpinteria: Sanchez’s commitment and work ethic helped him develop into a stalwart on the offensive and defensive lines. Coach Ben Hallock credited him with 65 big blocks during the season. He also noted Sanchez’s improvement in the classroom. “He had a 4.2 GPA this semester,” said Hallock.
OL — Bjorn Lindskog, Sr., Laguna Blanca: The center and anchor of the Owls’ O-line and a consistent performer all season. “He earned the 2015 Coaches Award for our team as the most coachable player who scored the highest in alignment, assignment, technique, attitude and effort,” said coach Shane Lopes.
DL — Julian Tico, Sr., Bishop Diego: “His work ethic and his compassion for his teammates made him a strong leader and his quickness made him a handful for offensive linemen.”
DL — Mike Agnoli, Jr., Bishop Diego: The 6-5 Agnoli used his size and quickness to pressure quarterbacks, bat down passes and string out running plays. He recorded 65 total tackles, three sacks and recovered three fumbles.
DL — Marcellous Gossett, Jr., Dos Pueblos: His combination of athleticism and toughness gave offensive linemen fits.
LB — Junior Garcia, Sr., Santa Barbara: The heart and soul of the Dons’ defensive unit. Garcia was a big hitter who made an impact on both sides of the ball. He posted 72 tackles and 2.5 sacks. “Like Brent (Peus), Junior has been an ambassador to our football program and one of the top middle linebackers in the area,” said coach JT Stone.
LB — Chris Noggle, Jr., Dos Pueblos: A ferocious hitter with great instincts, Noggle led the Chargers with 108 total tackles, including 50 solo stops.
LB — Paul Gularte, Sr. San Marcos: Gularte was in the middle of the action on almost every play. “He’s a passionate player with tremendous work ethic, and a leader by his play,” coach Anthony Linebaugh said.
LB — Ashton Borgeson, Soph. Bishop Diego: The sophomore was as tough as they come. He ranked second behind Shotwell in total tackles with 125. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more determined and tougher sophomore than Ash playing the position,” Crawford said.
DB — Tim Jimenez, Sr., Carpinteria: A solid performer for the Warriors throughout his career. He’s earned All Tri-Valley League honors three straight years. Although he was slowed by an Achilles injury early in the season, he came on strong in the last six games and finished with 42 tackles, 24 solo, with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a caused fumble.
DB — Jeremiah Nicholson, Jr., Santa Barbara: A versatile player, Nicholson possesses great football instincts and delivers big hits. He recorded 62 tackles, had four interceptions, nine deflections, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
DB —D’Shaun Vines, Sr. San Marcos: His athleticism and ability made a great asset on both sides of the ball. “He’s the consummate team player,” coach Anthony Linebaugh said. “He excelled on the field and as a leader. He’s a tireless worker, driven to be his best; a young man of character.”
DB — Dean Smith, Sr. Cate: A two-year captain and the team’s MVP, Smith played all over the field for the CIF semifinalists. “A great player who represents what we try to put out here at Cate,” said coach Ben Soto.