J.T. Stone’s final season at Santa Barbara High began with an offensive explosion.
Santa Barbara High quarterback Abel Renteria completed 18-of-24 passes for 323 yards with three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns and the Dons routed a formidable North Torrance team 48-19 on Friday night at Peabody Stadium.
Stone credited the Dons’ young offensive line, which had to replace four starters from last season for the outstanding offensive production.
“I told them exactly what everybody expected. They expected us to have a drop off on our offensive line. We knew that, everybody knew that, but the young boys have worked their tails off,” said Stone of his offensive line. “This group right here, extra film, you name it, they’re doing it because they know how important their job is. Tonight they got it done.”
The Dons are loaded at the skill positions and sophomore wide receiver Kai Mault had his coming out party with five catches for 139 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown catch on a jump ball in the end zone. Mault was second team All-Channel League in baseball last season as a freshman and proved to be a handful on the gridiron as well.
“Kai is a superstar. Not only in football he is a great baseball player,” Stone said. “He is one of those kids that can play pretty much anything and be good at it. I love the way he competes.”
Santa Barbara marched 80 yards in seven plays on its opening drive of the game. Mault wiggled free on a short pass and took it 35 yards down the sideline setting up a ten-yard touchdown run by Renteria on the next play with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter.
North Torrance evened the score on its ensuing drive on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lagarde to Hanbyoul Lozano with 2:42 remaining in the first quarter to even the score at 7-7.
However, the next Santa Barbara drive only lasted one play as Renteria connected with Winston Bartley on a 61-yard bomb to put the Dons back ahead 14-7.
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“With these guys, especially these receivers I just throw the ball and let them go get it because I know they’re going to make a play,” Renteria said. “I trust my guys.”
Late in the first half with Santa Barbara leading 28-14 Michael Cabral ripped the ball from a North Torrance running back setting up a 35-yard field goal as the first half clock expired to increase the Santa Barbara lead to 31-13.
Santa Barbara opened the second half with a nine-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off by a 11-yard touchdown pass from Renteria to Bartley, increasing the Dons lead to 38-13. Bartley finished with five catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns to open his junior season.
The final touchdown of the game came on a nine-yard run by Benicio Holland Garcia with 6:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Santa Barbara will travel to Righetti for a 7 p.m. kickoff next week.
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