San Luis Obispo football team pitches another shutout

Greenelsh, stingy defense lead San Luis Obispo to win in home debut as Tigers move to 3-0

nwilson@thetribunenews.comSeptember 14, 2013 

San Luis Obispo High’s Dillon Walter hauls in a two-point conversion pass after the Tigers’ first touchdown Friday night against Oxnard.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

For the second week in a row, San Luis Obispo High’s defense put up a goose egg on the scoreboard. 

For the third straight game to open the football season, the Tigers were able to chalk up a win. 

San Luis Obispo won 21-0 on Friday against Oxnard to improve to 3-0. 

The Tigers, playing their first home game, matched the physical blocking and unrelenting running attack of the Yellowjackets (0-2) with effective team-tackling.  

Meanwhile, the sprint speed of Nate Greenelsh provided the flash in the game. 

Greenelsh shot through the middle on a trap for a 63-yard touchdown early in the third quarter as part of his 125-yard rushing night. He wasn’t touched on the play.

Later in the third, Greenelsh intercepted a pass and returned it nearly 75 yards down the left side of the field to the Oxnard 2-yard line.  

Tigers running back Cole Bradley added two rushing touchdowns, and defensive lineman Steve Howard hounded the Oxnard ball carriers all night long before being rewarded with a fumble recovery with about 4:30 left to preserve the shutout. 

“We have a lot of team chemistry,” Bradley said. “Last year, I think we were more a team of stars who would make these big plays. I think this year, we’re relying more on our skills as a group.” 

The Tigers lost their first two games 21-20 last season, though they had PAC 7 League MVP Garrett Giovannelli and league defensive back of the year Jack Ferguson, who both graduated.

But if the Tigers have a budding star this year, Greenelsh is a top candidate. 

A top local high school sprinter, the 6-foot, 170-pound running back and safety returned an interception for big yards for the second straight week. 

He returned a 70-yarder for a touchdown last week in a 17-0 win at Dos Pueblos.

“The (Oxnard) receiver tipped the pass,” Greenelsh said of his interception Friday. “I caught it and then just took off, but I tried to get too tricky at the end and slowed down to juke the defender. I should have just gone full speed for the end zone.”  

Regardless, San Luis Obispo was called for an illegal block on the play and the Tigers took over on the Oxnard 20-yard line. 

San Luis Obispo coach David Kelley said Oxnard played exactly how he expected, with a “smash-mouth” run game on nearly every play. 

Oxnard quarterback Dalton Pagano threw just four passes, completing two, for 1 yard. 

But the Yellowjackets pounded away with short gains on a 65-yard drive that took up most of the second quarter fueled by Andrew Valenzuela, who finished with 85 yards rushing, and Raymond Caldera, who ended with 99 yards on the ground. 

Late in the second quarter, Oxnard got to the San Luis Obispo 2-yard line, but the Tigers kept Oxnard out of the end zone on four straight running plays up the middle.

“That just shows the character of our kids right there,” Kelley said. “After a 60-plus yard drive, we make a goal line stand that was just a testament of their determination.” 

Kelley said the tandem of Greenelsh and Bradley, who provided key blocking for his backfield mate, was effective in the win. 

Bradley ran for 30 yards on six carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run with 10:29 in the fourth to give the Tigers a comfortable 21-0 lead. 

Bradley also scored the first touchdown on a 1-yard punch-in with 5:07 in the first. Then, quarterback Thomas Orradre, operating as the holder, connected with Dillon Walter on a short pass for a two-point conversion after the Tigers faked the kick to go up 8-0.   

Orradre threw for 22 yards and two interceptions and ran for 31 yards. He was hit hard late in the game on a roughing-the-passer penalty and was replaced in the final minutes by Sam Thompson. 

Orradre remained on the sideline to finish the game.

“He got banged up,” Kelley said. “I don’t know what happened exactly. I’ll have to talk to the trainer and find out.” 

Kelley said that while his team played well, the Tigers need to work on minimizing penalties and turnovers as they “shot themselves in the foot” at times during the game. 

They tallied 90 yards on seven penalties and fumbled three times, losing one.

But the aggression on the line of scrimmage paid off as the Tigers moved the ball when they needed to and kept the Yellowjackets from big gains on the run. 

“Starting 3-0, we’re pretty excited,” offensive and defensive lineman Brandon Cutler said. “We’re very energized right now. We’re feeling good. We’re like a big old family.” 

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