It’s been an up-and-down season for the Atascadero High School football team. The Greyhounds started 2017 with a thrilling overtime win, only to follow that with a four-game losing streak.
But things are looking up again for Vic Cooper’s team after a 21-7 win over Pioneer Valley two weeks ago.
Coming off a bye, Atascadero (2-4, 0-0 PAC 5) will travel to Santa Maria to take on Righetti (3-3, 1-0 PAC 5) to open its PAC 5 season at 7 p.m. Friday.
It was the Atascadero defense that led the way in its last game, harassing the quarterback and forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Quarterback play hasn’t been a strength for Atascadero, so against Righetti it will likely be more of the same: Hand the ball to running backs Arik Machado and Kobe Cross, control the clock and let the defense do its thing.
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The defense will need to slow down Righetti senior running back Damien Robles, who rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-7 win over SLO High last week.
If the Greyhounds can do that and give the ball to Machado, who has four 100-yard games this season and is averaging more than 6 yards per carry, it will have a good chance to win and keep pace with first-place Paso Robles.
Paso Robles at SLO High, 7 p.m.
Paso Robles (2-4, 1-0 PAC 5) shocked the local prep football scene last week when it rolled into Arroyo Grande and handed the defending PAC 5 champion Eagles a sound defeat. Now the league frontrunners, sophomore quarterback Hunter Barnhart will face an easier test when the Bearcats play at SLO High (1-5, 0-1 PAC 5).
SLO High had a new quarterback under center in last week’s loss to Righetti: Mission Prep transfer and baseball standout Emilio Corona, who was playing in his first game after the sit-out period. He scored the Tigers’ only touchdown on a 25-yard run.
Nipomo at Scotts Valley, 7 p.m.
With the departure of Mission Prep from the Northern League and into the eight-man ranks, Nipomo had to fill a hole in its schedule and will travel north to play Scotts Valley, located just outside of Santa Cruz. A Central Coast Section team, Scotts Valley (5-1, 3-0 Mission Trail League) is ranked No. 337 in the state by MaxPreps.com, while Nipomo (2-5, 1-0 Northern) is ranked No. 509. Last week, Scotts Valley shut out King City 24-0 thanks to a power running game.
Nipomo is coming off a 35-0 shutout of Templeton to open league play last Friday. Sophomore quarterback Brayden Groshart rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another in the win, and the defense is looking like it’s hitting stride.
Santa Maria at Templeton, 7 p.m.
After losing to Nipomo last week in a shutout, this game is a must-win for Templeton (2-5, 0-1 Northern) if it wants to keep its league title hopes alive. Templeton has lost three games in a row, as has Santa Maria (2-4, 0-0 Northern). Templeton will need to figure out its offense without standout junior running back Shane Simonin, who is out again with a knee injury.
▪ Morro Bay and Arroyo Grande both have byes.
Mission Prep at Chadwick (Palos Verdes Peninsula), 3:30 p.m.
Mission Prep (4-0, 0-0 Freelance) will play its first league game of the season Friday against Chadwick (6-0, 0-0 Freelance) — which could also prove to be its toughest. Spectators should expect a high-scoring, run-heavy game. Chadwick is averaging nearly eight touchdowns a game, and running backs Zach Goodman and Oryan Hamlin have combined for 24 touchdowns. But Mission Prep has a trio of running backs that can do some damage, too, in Vance Rocha, Brayden Farr and Brian Kowall. And the Royals are averaging 251 rushing yards per game.