Atascadero's playoff run comes to an end

sports@thetribunenews.comNovember 23, 2012 

An extraordinary playoff run by an Atascadero High football team that was fortunate just to get a playoff berth ended in a semifinal game Friday.

The Greyhounds lost 37-6 at home to a physical West High team from Torrance that dominated the line of scrimmage.

The Cinderella story wasn’t to be for an Atascadero team that entered the playoffs 4-6 overall before knocking off undefeated Palmdale High and then highly touted Canyon High last week. 

“We fought hard until the end,” said Atascadero Coach Vic Cooper. “We just ran into a team that was physical with a tough line. I think they’re playing the best football right now. I’m proud of our guys.They felt like they had a second chance this season in playoffs and they took advantage of it.”

Atascadero was the only squad from the PAC 7 to make it past the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs — which included three other county schools in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande.

But the Greyhounds got off to a shaky start, fumbling three times in the first few minutes against West, turning over one of those at their own 31.

Then on their first offensive play of the game, Warriors’ quarterback Joey Notch found fleet-footed receiver Dane Silverlake, who darted through the Greyhounds’ secondary for a touchdown completion — his first of two scoring receptions on the night.

After West built a 17-0 lead on a Barry Thomas rushing touchdown and a Silverlake field goal, the Greyhounds narrowed the gap to 17-6 to close the half on a 13-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Torres, who ran for 45 yards on the night.

Greyhounds quarterback Robbie Berwick completed play-action passes and scrambled to find open receivers against a relentless Warriors’ defensive attack, finishing 9 of 15 passing for 161 yards and one interception.

In the second half, however, it was all Warriors. West mixed a powerful running game led by Thomas, who dashed for 101 yards and two touchdowns, with the strong arm of quarterback Notch, who threw for 193 and a pair of scoring passes.

The Greyhounds had trouble blocking on offense and getting through a massive front of Warriors players weighing well over 200 pounds.

Those players included Mohammed Faqhi, a 6-foot-3, 275 pound guard, and Ray Lima, a 6-foot-3, 240 defensive lineman.

The smash-mouth West players caused seven fumbles against the Greyhounds, including four that the Warriors recovered.

Junior Izaiah Cooks finished with 54 yards rushing for the Greyhounds, and sophomore Ethan Hicks had 22 yards.

“We always believed and we came in believing tonight,” Hicks said. “We’re a young team and we learned a lot this year.”

Cooper said his seniors poured their hearts into the season.

“Our seniors are a little disappointed right now, but they helped give people a lot of excitement these past couple weeks with all they put into this,” Cooper said. “People have no idea the work they put in for four years here and all the offseason weight training and practice. For me, tonight it’s about them. I’m not thinking about next year right now.”

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