Nipomo High’s football team knocked off a nearby PAC 7 rival with a one-point win over Pioneer Valley in the season opener Aug. 30.
And the promise was there for a competitive matchup against another PAC 7 neighbor.
But it was not to be as Arroyo Grande (1-1) defeated the Titans (1-1) in a 44-6 blowout Friday that saw the Eagles control every aspect of the game.
“The last few years it has been like this,” Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said. “We have a better team this year, and I thought we could make a better showing. They just dominated the game.”
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The victory marked the first for Mikey Gutierrez as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
Provided with excellent protection, Gutierrez completed 9 of 11 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the two incompletions was a pass to Garrett Brownlee in the second quarter. Brownlee was wide open near the end zone and dropped the throw that would have resulted in a touchdown.
Brownlee made up for the miss, however, by catching a 23-yard touchdown pass over the middle with 51 seconds remaining in the first half to put Arroyo Grande ahead 38-0.
Gutierrez also ran for two touchdowns and finished with 37 yards on the ground.
“Our team was prepared tonight,” Gutierrez said. “We knew what to expect. The more games we play, the more comfortable we’ll be.”
Edwards acknowledged that his game plan against Pioneer Valley may have come somewhat as a surprise to the Panthers in the 32-31 thriller last week.
Quarterback Matt Alright threw for 320 yards in a spread offense in which five players caught passes.
But the Eagles played for pass protection sets, Edwards said.
“They basically dared us to run all night long, and we couldn’t do it effectively enough,” Edwards said.
A bright spot for the Titans was running back Chris Owens, who had a game-high 105 rushing yards and punched in his team’s only touchdown on the game’s last play as the running clock expired.
Edwards said Owens “hit the holes hard,” and the touchdown was well-deserved for his effort.
But by then, Arroyo Grande had its reserves in the game and was content to enjoy a night when everything was going its way.
Eagles receiver Sean St. Denis, who ran a 4.66 40-yard dash in the team’s preseason individual tests, caught six passes for 93 yards, including a touchdown.
“I think Mikey and I were seeing the same things,” St. Denis said. “And he had all kinds of time to throw because our offensive line was giving him great protection. We’re all a team, and we’re trying to get better every week.”
Other Eagles who excelled included Grant Alton, who intercepted a pass from Albright in the second quarter and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown.
Alton was recovering from a shoulder bruise after a reception against Lompoc in his team’s opener and didn’t play his usual tight end position Friday.
But his injury moved Brownlee over to tight end and gave running back Brody Gilbert an opportunity to show his prowess.
Gilbert responded with 75 yards rushing on 12 carries to lead the Eagles.
Austin Tyerman came on as a reserve in the second half and ran for 38 yards on 10 carries in mop-up duties.
And the Arroyo Grande defensive line was able to pressure Albright frequently as the secondary kept the Nipomo receivers covered.
Albright was 5-of-14 passing for 41 yards with an interception and no touchdowns.
“We did a good job in our secondary of covering routes and putting pressure on their quarterback,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “We prepared for that type of coverage.”
Goossen said that Gutierrez’s success is not surprising, and he was pleased with his quarterback’s execution.
“I’ve said all along that I believe in what Mikey can do,” Goossen said. “He’s a confident competitor.”