It would certainly be difficult to score on this defense, yet alone be able to defeat this group on the gridiron.

This is the Santa Maria Times' All-Area defense. 

Defensive Back of the Year: Elias Martinez, Righetti: The secondary of this mythical group would be led by Martinez, a Righetti senior. At 6-foot and 180 pounds, Martinez was Righetti's most athletic player on either side of the ball. But Martinez didn't just rely on his physical ability, he also displayed a knack for making big plays and had a nose for the ball, picking off four passes on the season as Righetti won the CIF Central Section Division 5 championship this past fall. 

Quarterbacks rarely tested his side of the field, and when they did, Martinez typically made them pay. He leads this All-Area defensive unit chosen by Santa Maria Times sports editor Joe Bailey with the publication's annual All-Area team that aims to highlight the top players from northern Santa Barbara County and southern San Luis Obispo County.

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Vinny Hernandez, Nipomo: The Defensive Lineman of the Year comes from SLO County. That would be Nipomo senior Vinny Hernandez, who had a stellar season leading a tough Nipomo defense. Hernandez was brilliant in the trenches for the Titans, with a team high 17 tackles-for-loss and 11.5 sacks. He also tied for the team lead with 75 total tackles.

FIRST TEAM

DL: Brandon Welby, Santa Ynez: At 5-10 and 255 pounds, Welby ate up space in the middle of the Santa Ynez. He finished the year with 61 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and two sacks. 

DL: Aidan Scott, Santa Ynez:  Scott is a promising prospect with size and a high motor. He can also play tight end but made his biggest impact on the defensive line, recording a team high eight sacks.

DL: Hayden Baichtal, Righetti: Baichtal came out of nowhere to have a big senior season at Righetti, using his speed and length to disrupt opposing offenses. Baichtal played especially well during Righetti's CIF playoff run.

DL: Andrew Farao, St. Joseph: This St. Joseph senior earned First Team All-Mountain League honors after showing an ability to play the run and get after the quarterback last season.

DL: Vincent Tafoya, Arroyo Grande: Tafoya was third on the team in tackles with 81 on the season and also recorded three sacks to earn First Team All-Mountain League honors.

DL: Julius Booker, Santa Maria: Booker had shown flashes of potential and ability over the years, but finally stayed on the field long enough to earn some recognition, landing on the All-Ocean League First Team.

LB: Brian Monighetti, Righetti: This Righetti junior earned First Team All-Area and All-League honors for the Warriors, using his athleticism to make plays in coverage and against the run. He'll be back as a senior in 2022.

LB: Gabe Evans, Nipomo: Evans is a 5-foot-7, 180-pound linebacker who played well above his weight to lead Nipomo in tackles with 75. He also had 10 TFLs and 8.5 sacks.

LB: Tanner Padfield, Santa Ynez: The senior had a strong showing for the Pirates, finishing second on the team in tackles (85). He also had 6.5 TFLs and three sacks. 

DB: Cooper Bagby, Righetti: Whenever Righetti needed a physical play to be made on defense, Bagby was there to provide. He was a physically imposing strong safety that punished ball-carriers and any receiver trying to make a catch in the middle of the Warrior secondary. Not bad for a guy who took last season off to focus on baseball.

DB: Canyon McClurg, Santa Ynez: McClurg had 20 solo stops at corner for the Pirates and made a sack and intercepted a pass to earn co-Defensive Back of the Year honors in the Pacific View League.

DB: Adan Rubalcava, Pioneer Valley: Rubalcava was undoubtedly Pioneer Valley's best player in the fall, making plays on defense, offense and special teams.

DB: Malakai Langley, St. Joseph: Langley is one of the most explosive players in the area who can play DB and running back. The sophomore has a promising future in front of him.

DB: Cash McClurg, Santa Ynez: Cash McClurg had a strong senior season, making 20 tackles with 3.5 TFLs and two interceptions to earn First Team All-Pacific View League honors. 

Punter: Tyler Gregg, Santa Ynez: Gregg had a really nice senior year at Santa Ynez, making plays on offense, defense and special teams. He was a solid defensive back, receiver and could also play some QB. But he was also the Pirate punter, averaging over 32 yards per boot on 23 tries, pinning four inside the 20.

SECOND TEAM

DL: Richie Cardenas, Righetti; Oscar Lazos, Lompoc; Erasmo Zepeda, Lompoc; Leo Toledo, Nipomo.

LB: Anthony Moreno, St. Joseph; Brandon Butler, Arroyo Grande; Michael Manzo, Lompoc; Gabe Sanchez, Nipomo.

DB: Nolan Oslin, Santa Ynez; Oscar Magallon, St. Joseph; Koa Kopcho, Arroyo Grande; David Plascencia, Santa Maria.

The Times' All-Area Teams are made by sports editor Joe Bailey and include football teams from Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Nipomo and Arroyo Grande.

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