Friday Night Lights: Stakes are high in Dons-Chargers clash

There’s plenty of drama going into Friday night’s crosstown clash between Santa Barbara High and Dos Pueblos at Peabody Stadium.

For starters, each team needs a win to stay in the Channel League title picture. Both teams lost league openers last week on the road, the Chargers at Buena, 24-14, and the Dons at defending champion Ventura, 28-24.

Adding to the intrigue, former Santa Barbara head coach Doug Caines is now the defensive coordinator at DP. He coached many of the Dons players when they were sophomores on the varsity. He’ll have his hands full trying to find ways to slow down a Santa Barbara offense that averages 40 points and nearly 400 yards in offense a game.

The game also is the first in the battle for the City Championship.

Caines and Dos Pueblos can expect plenty of passes from Santa Barbara. Senior quarterback Brent Peus is having a stellar senior season. He’s completed over 70 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,259 yards and 23 touchdowns. Tick Jellison, Mason Bigelow and Blake Kelley are sure-handed receivers who all run well after the catch.

DP junior quarterback Kellen Roberts is also having a good season running the Chargers’ no-huddle offense. He’s passed for 1,298 yards and 13 touchdowns. Marcellous Gossett and Blake Erwin are his primary targets. Manny Nwosu leads the rushing attack.

Both DP and Santa Barbara hurt themselves with slow starts last week. The Chargers (2-5, 0-1) fell behind 17-0 in the first half against Buena, while Santa Barbara needed a touchdown on the last play of the first half to pull to 14-7 and get back in the game at Ventura.

The Dons (4-3, 0-1) roared back in the second half and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. They thought they scored the game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left but an official ruled Ruben Velez didn’t cross the goal line after catching a swing pass from quarterback Brent Peus. They had two cracks to score from the 1 but were stopped on both.

The emotions will be sky-high in this one. DP will need its best defensive performance to slow Santa Barbara down and keep the game close. The pick: Santa Barbara.

Ventura (3-4, 1-0) at San Marcos (1-6, 0-0), 7 p.m. — The Royals play their Channel League opener against a charged-up Ventura team that is coming off an exhilarating win over Santa Barbara. The Cougars stopped Santa Barbara twice at the 1-yard line in the final seconds to win last week’s opener 28-24. The Royals will need to be sharp on the offensive line to allow quarterback D’Shaun Vines to do his thing against an aggressive Ventura defense. The San Marcos defense can expect a steady dose of running from Cougar backs Broc Montensen and Roan Moran. The pick: Ventura

Immanuel (6-0) vs. Bishop Diego (6-0), at SBCC, 7:30 p.m. — Call this one the “Midseason Bowl.” Immanuel comes to Santa Barbara as the top-ranked team in Division 5 of the CIF Central Section and the No. 4 team in CalHiSports’ Division 5 state rankings. Bishop is 9th in the Southern Section’s Northern Division (Division 3). The Visalia Times-Delta says that Immanuel is arguably the Central Section’s best hope of making a state bowl game in November. The Eagles return several players from last year’s team that lost in the section championship game. Among the returnees is quarterback Caleb Paulson who’s thrown for 1,232 yards and 15 touchdowns. Receiver Chris Rosedale has caught 21 passes for 444 yards and five TDs. Bishop won last year’s game in Reedley, 20-17, in overtime. This will be a good test for the Cardinals before beginning Tri-Valley League play next week. The pick: Bishop Diego.

Cantwell-Sacred Heart (1-5) at Carpinteria (1-5), 7:30 p.m. — The Warriors got their running game going in last week’s win over Santa Paula behind the play of Rudy Beltran (188 yards). Look for them to keep the momentum going in their final tune-up before the start of Tri-Valley League play. The pick: Carpinteria.