The Santa Barbara High football team never encountered a quarterback with the dynamic dual threat ability of Downey’s Aidan Chiles on the way to a 9-1 regular season record and a share of the Channel League title.
Chiles, an Oregon State commit, tossed three touchdown passes and ran for another as Downey eliminated Santa Barbara, 38-21, in a CIF-SS Division 4 first round game, on Friday night at Peabody Stadium.
“(Chiles) is special. If they don’t have a quarterback this is a whole different ball game,” said Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone. “I feel like he made the plays. He’s exactly the player that recruiters are looking for so we knew he was going to be a problem.”
The Dons came into the game intent on running the ball, controlling the clock and limiting the number of possessions the Downey offense had for Chiles to work his magic, but Santa Barbara turnovers allowed the Vikings to break the game open.
Downey opened the scoring on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Chiles that capped off an eight-play, 55-yard drive with 3:39 remaining in the first quarter.
After a quick Santa Barbara three-and-out, Chiles went to work again and connected with Manuel Albidrez in stride for a 58-yard touchdown pass, in which he rolled to his right and dropped the ball into a tight window with 11:50 remaining in the second quarter.
It appeared Santa Barbara would cut into its deficit, but an 11-play drive ended in disaster as Abel Renteria fumbled inside the 10-yard line. Downey recovered at the three-yard line and marched 97 yards on five plays capped off by a 43-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Crutchfield that increased the lead to 21-0 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.
“I think the football gods got the football,” said Downey coach Jack Williams. “We were still trying to look at the film and see how he fumbled and it just slipped out of his hands.”
The Dons methodically drove down the field again and this time it paid off an 11-play, 53 yard drive with a four-yard touchdown pass from Renteria to Kai Mault with 15 seconds to play in the first half, cutting the Santa Barbara deficit to 21-7.
“Our kids played extremely well. For a team that has 4,100 kids to come and play a school that has 2,200 kids we were right there,” Stone said. “If we don’t turn the ball over it’s a different ball game and I was just happy because I told my kids to come out and compete and that’s all I asked them to do.”
Santa Barbara got the ball to open the second half and drove into Downey territory, but a bobbled pass was intercepted by Crutchfeld. Two plays later Chiles threw a dart to Bryant Carey for a 17-yard touchdown, increasing the Downey lead to 28-7 with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter.
The next drive was probably Santa Barbara’s best of the game as the Dons marched 62 yards on eight-plays. Nathan Barrios broke a tackle and rumbled down the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 28-14 with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter.
Downey tacked on a 29-yard field goal and 25-yard touchdown pass from Chiles to Carey in the fourth quarter and Barrios added another touchdown on a two-yard run for Santa Barbara with 1:25 remaining in the game.
It was the final game for Santa Barbara High coach J.T. Stone who will be moving to North Carolina with his family. Stone is optimistic about the program that was stacked with junior starters at the varsity level and had an undefeated junior varsity team.
“Whoever comes in just has to really take advantage of the kids that we have,” Stone said. “We just have a great program and a great bunch of kids.”