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Player of the Decade: A look back at Fenton Will's stellar career in the middle of St. Joseph's defense
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Player of the Decade

Player of the Decade: A look back at Fenton Will's stellar career in the middle of St. Joseph's defense

Fenton Will was a highly-skilled football player during his days at St. Joseph.

But he had one particular skill he truly excelled at during his days as a Knight: Attacking the ball-carrier. 

Will, now a linebacker at Cal Poly, was a key component of the St. Joseph defense for three seasons on the varsity level. He was his team's top tackler in two of those seasons.

Though Will's best skill was bringing down the ball-carrier, he employed that ability in a number of ways.

Will, from his inside linebacker spot, could fight through offensive linemen to sniff out the ball and make a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

But Will could also use his speed, sprinting from the far hash-mark to the opposite sideline to track down a receiver in the open field. Some may remember that Will was also a standout member of the Knights' 4x100-meter relay team during the track season. 

For his work on the St. Joseph defense, Will has been chosen as the eighth nominee in the Times' search for Player of the Decade. The staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News has polled area coaches in its quest to find the area's top football player from the past decade (2010-2019 seasons). 

Will was named the Times' All-Area Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2016 after recording 95 total tackles, 51 of which were solo stops. Will had 19.5 tackles-for-loss that year. 

Will was arguably better during his junior season when he had 116 total tackles, about 40 more than the second-place finisher on the team. He had 4.5 tackles-for-loss that year as he recorded 56 solo stops and 60 assists. 

Will recorded 128 solo tackles and 138 assists for 266 total tackles during his 32 career varsity games. (He had 34 total tackles as a sophomore on the Knights' varsity team). He had 10.5 sacks as well.

Former St. Joseph coach Dustin Davis, who coached Will all three seasons with the Knights and is now Lompoc High's defensive coordinator, said Will was the "best pure football player" he coached during his time with the Knights. 

"One of the greatest leaders I have ever coached," Davis said of Will. "His work ethic, drive, tenacity and determination were higher than most players I have ever been around. However, his best trait was his selflessness. He sacrificed playing fullback senior year because we needed him to play line."

Will was expected to actually be the ball-carrier heading into his senior season, but those plans were scrapped due to injuries and Will lined up as a blocking tight end while also starting at linebacker. During his final two seasons leading the St. Joseph defense, the Knights went 16-8 and allowed an average of 19 points a game. St. Joseph went 23-13 during his three seasons on the varsity level.

The 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker has worked his way into the rotation on Cal Poly's defense. He red-shirted in 2017, then played in 10 games as a red-shirt freshman in 2018, recording eight total tackles. Will played in 11 games last fall, recording 38 total tackles, 21 of which were solo stops.  Will is slated to be a red-shirt junior this coming season.

The four remaining Player of the Decade nominees, chosen from Northern Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, will be released in the coming weeks. Will joins the previous nominees, Nipomo's Nick Kimball, Arroyo Grande grads Bradley Mickey and Seth Jacobs, former Lompoc High standouts Lavon Coleman and Ainuu Taua, former Santa Maria quarterback Blake Truhitte and former Santa Ynez receiver Gabe Prendergast.

Once all 12 nominees have been announced, readers will have the opportunity to vote for Player of the Decade.

Player of the Decade: We're looking for the top player of the last 10 seasons

The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News is looking for the top football player from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County over the last 10 seasons of high school ball.

See who our nominees are thus far.


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