Atascadero High and Righetti have played some close football games in recent years.
None were quite as close as the one this season.
Set up by a late personal foul call on the Greyhounds, Righetti’s Joe Adam kicked a game-winning 28-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter Friday night to give the visiting Warriors a 3-0 win.
“We’re hyped,” Righetti running back Dylan Jones said. “You can’t even describe how we feel right now.”
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Three of Atascadero’s four league losses since the end of the 2005 season have come against Righetti, which won 13-3 a year ago and 21-13 in 2007. The Greyhounds prevailed 19-14 in 2008 and 17-13 in 2006.
“If you’re looking for an answer, I don’t have it,” Atascadero coach Vic Cooper said of the Warriors’ perplexing success against the Greyhounds, who nonetheless won three straight PAC 7 titles from 2006 to 2008 before relinquishing the banner last season to, perhaps fittingly, none other than Righetti. “They’re just a well coached football team. They scout us well, they play tough, and they match up with us in the trenches.”
The Warriors (5-1, 2-0 PAC 7) were coming off a 15-7 nail-biting win against PAC 7 newcomer St. Joseph in the first meeting between those two intracity neighbors in 20 years. Even so, when Adam’s kick sailed through the uprights, Jones said, he jumped and “felt like (he) was 10 feet in the air. That was the biggest win I’ve had in a while.”
Several key starters graduated from last year’s Warriors squad, including quarterback T.J. Jordan, running back Michael Hale and receiver Matt Miller, the league’s MVP.
“A lot of people thought it was just those seniors who won us those games (last year),” said Jones, now a senior. “But a few of us juniors were there, and we know how it feels, and we want that again.”
Righetti found slightly more success moving the ball, posting a 236-127 advantage in total offense.
“What a great football game,” said Warriors coach Gary Wilson, who was doused in a postgame celebration. “We’ve really brought our program up again, and the kids are playing very well.
“We have to be so prepared for Atascadero. You know it’s going to be a battle every year.”
The Warriors’ defensive front kept Greyhounds quarterback Jesse Whitten under duress virtually all night, and held their ground in the running game, as well. Atascadero punted six times.
“They definitely executed better on offense,” Cooper said. “We weren’t able to string a few plays together.”
The physical matchup saw the teams fumble a combined seven times, losing five of them.
Jones ran for a game-best 104 yards on 17 carries. Warriors quarterback Uso Taua was 10-of-18 passing for 114 yards with two interceptions.
For the Greyhounds (5-1, 1-1 PAC 7), running back Stetson Bullard ran for 49 yards on nine carries.
Atascadero’s defense was stalwart in its own right.
Greyhounds cornerback Troy Norris intercepted his sixth and seventh passes of the year.
The senior entered the day tied for third in the CIF-Southern Section in that statistic.
Fellow cornerback Zac Haskell also had a pair of acrobatic pass breakups for the Greyhounds, while teammate Logan Sprouse had an interception.
Other big plays came from Eli Jackson, who blocked an early field-goal attempt by Righetti and later recovered a fumble, and Gannon Robinett, who came up with another fumble recovery.
“They gave us every single opportunity to win,” Cooper said of his defense. “We’ve got some playmakers.
“We had every opportunity to win that game. And we just didn’t get it done.”
The Greyhounds couldn’t convert on a pair of intermediate field goal tries in the fourth quarter, one of which was scuttled by a snap-and-hold miscue resulting in a 13-yard loss.