Dons receivers put on a show in 52-7 romp over Channel Islands

The “good hands” people put on a show for the Santa Barbara High football team in its home opener Friday night.

Wide receivers Chris “Tick” Jellison and Mason Bigelow snared a combined 14 passes from quarterback Brent Peus and scored three touchdowns, leading the CIF Western Division fifth-ranked Dons to a 52-7 non-league victory over No. 8 Channel Islands before a big crowd at Peabody Stadium.

The Dons (3-0) gave their fans plenty to cheer about early, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and scoring two more touchdowns in the second quarter for a 33-0 lead by halftime against the Raiders (2-1).

“We’ve been teaching from Day 1 with this offense that we want to go for the jugular,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone said. “That’s our mentality. It may not be other coaches mentality but our mentality is to go for the jugular, and that’s what we want to do. We want an up-tempo offense that’s able to score. We want the football. We want the football all of the time.”

Peus enjoyed a good night when the Dons had the ball, completing 20 of 27 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Jellison hauled in a pair of scoring strikes and Bigelow and Blake Kelley caught one apiece.

Sean Babcock, Isai Figueroa, Ruben Velez and Jeremiah Nicholson scored rushing touchdowns in a balanced offensive attack for Santa Barbara.

“Our offense has been the same — pretty consistent — because we keep it simple and  have our receivers, quarterback and running backs just make plays,” said Jellison. “Our line holds a good block and everyone does their job. It’s not like we’re getting all tricky. We just keep our simple stuff going.”

Brent Peus threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns for Santa Barbara High.

Brent Peus threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns for Santa Barbara High in a 52-7 win over Channel Islands. (Presidio Sports photo)

On defense, the Dons picked off three Channel Islands passes. Angel Velasquez had two interceptions and Donovan Zavaleta had one.

“I’m blessed to have a bunch of good kids right now and it showed in the game,” said Stone.

Santa Barbara’s offense didn’t waste any time taking command of the game. On their first possession, the Dons marched 59 yards for a touchdown. Bigelow was huge on the drive, catching a pair of 11-yard passes from Peus. The first one, on a beautiful square-out route, came on a fourth and eight at the CI 29. The second catch put the ball at the 3. Three plays later, Babcock ran behind right guard Andy Lopez for the touchdown. The PAT kick failed.

“Mason made some big plays and got everyone excited, and Brent was just throwing to the open guys,” said Jellison. “We have four very good receivers. We’ve worked together for three years, so we have a really good connection and we’re all hard workers, so we know we’re masters of our craft.”

Zavaleta’s interception set up Santa Barbara’s second touchdown. Starting at the CI 31, Peus hit Jellison for 15 yards and two plays later fired a 7-yard strike to Bigelow for the touchdown. Peus passed to Babcock for a 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter.

The Dons got the ball back when the Raiders fumbled the ensuing kickoff at their 16.  Five plays later, Peus found the 6-5 Kelley on a slant in the end zone. Jonothan Orozco’s kick made it 21-0 at the 2:30 mark of the opening quarter.

Another big catch by Bigelow — this one for 35 yards — led to the Dons’ fourth TD, a 1-yard run by Figueroa at 8:01 of the second quarter.

“I tell the kids all the time you got to compete, and our kids will compete,” said Stone. “If you saw a couple of Mason’s catches, that’s what we teach. We’ve got to compete on every down. I don’t care who’s guarding us.”

A bad snap on a CI punt gave Santa Barbara the ball at the Raiders’ 7. A personal foul penalty pushed the ball back to the 22. But Peus went back to the good hands guys. Bigelow caught a 5-yard pass and Jellison hauled in a 17-yard strike in the far corner of the end zone for a 33-0 lead.

Channel Islands got on the board on its first possession of the second. Quarterback Tommy Silva hit Ralph Navarro over the middle and Navarro broke away from defenders for a 68-yard touchdown play.

The Dons capitalized on Velasquez’ second interception of the game, as Peus combined with Jellison on a beautiful pass over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown.

“These kids work at their craft, so I’m not surprised they’re having success right now because they’ve put the work in,” said Stone.

The Dons face a tough challenge next Friday when they host a Rio Mesa team that knocked off Ventura.


Channel Islands' Matthew Drake breaks up a pass intended for Santa Barbara receiver Blake Kelley.

Channel Islands’ Matthew Drake breaks up a pass intended for Santa Barbara receiver Blake Kelley.