Assistant JT Stone named to coach Dons football team in 2014

JT Stone is the new veracity football coach at Santa Barbara High.

JT Stone is the new varsity football coach at Santa Barbara High School.

JT Stone, a record-setting quarterback at Dos Pueblos High and Santa Barbara City College in the 1990s and a member of the Santa Barbara High football coaching staff, has been named interim head coach for the Dons, athletic director Joe Chenoweth announced Tuesday.

Stone replaces Doug Caines, who was removed from the position after two years at the helm. The school administration cited unresolved issues within the football program as the reason Caines was relieved of his head coaching duties.

“It’s unfortunate what happened but we got to move forward,” said Stone, who joined the Dons’ coaching staff in the spring. His high school coaching experience includes stints as an assistant at St. Joseph and Righetti in Santa Maria. He’s also coached semipro and youth football.

Santa Barbara will be his first prep head coaching job. He becomes the fifth football coach at the school since 2005, following Craig Moropoulos, Will Gonzales, Jaime Melgoza and Caines.

“For me, it’s a dream job,” Stone said of coaching at SBHS. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. Growing up here in the late 1980s and 90s, Santa Barbara High, we all know what the tradition is. To be in a position to be the head coach for the Santa Barbara Dons football program, with that type of tradition, is a dream come true.

“I’m extremely excited, passionate about what I can bring to the table, along with the kids we have here,” he continued. “We have a great group of kids. We’re going to move forward and be ready to go.”

Stone, 37, has also worked as a private coach, and he’s tutored many of the Santa Barbara players before they entered high school. Junior quarterback Brent Peus was one of his pupils.

“I’ve coached him since he was in the 6th grade,” said Stone.

As a sophomore, Peus passed for 1,675 yards and nine touchdowns, and completed 59 percent of his passes.

“He’s a good one. I think, with him, the sky’s the limit. Not only is he a good football player, he’s an astute student of the game. He’s got a 4.6 GPA, so it’s one of those things that’s going to make my job a little easier at the quarterback position,” said Stone.

Stone was a record-setting quarterback in his playing days at DP and SBCC. He led Southern California in passing yardage during his senior year in high school and earned All-CIF honors. He held the county record for passing yardage per game, averaging 248 yards during a 10-game season. At SBCC, he threw for a single-season record of 3,102 yards as a freshman. He ranks second in career passing yardage with 5,723 yards and touchdown passes with 42 in 19 games.

He completed his collegiate career at West Texas A&M.

Stone expects to have assistants Jaime Melgoza and Udy Loza on his staff and plans to add  some new assistants.

Stone, Melgoza and Loza were the candidates Chenoweth interviewed for the head coaching job. Melgoza is a former varsity head coach who coached the freshman team last year. Loza is a longtime assistant in the program.

“I was fortunate to interview three extremely qualified candidates prior to making my decision,” Chenoweth said in a statement. “Each candidate clearly understood the X’s and O’s of the game. Each of them provided me their philosophy on what it takes for a program to be successful. The main points:

1, Committed by being on time and ready to  ‘go’ each day on the field and weight room.

2, Maintaining self-discipline to succeed in the classroom

3. Being accountable for on and off the field activities

Each candidate understood this was an ‘interim position’ regardless of the outcome of the season. They also understood it was critical each player leave our program by having a positive experience while they wear the green and gold.

“After speaking with Mr. (Principal John) Becchio and really considering the options, I decided to appoint JT Stone as the interim 2014 head football coach.”

Chenoweth noted that one of factors in his decision was “the players voiced their respect towards his coaching style.”

Stone comes from an athletic family. His younger brothers Jason and Julyan were also high school and college standouts. Jason still holds football receiving records at SBCC. Julyan was a star basketball player at Texas-El Paso and has played in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors.

Santa Barbara is currently in its 21-day dead period. Stone’s first official practice as head coach is Aug. 4. The Dons open their season Aug. 29 with a home game against Oxnard.

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