Robbie Berwick has a lot swirling in his mind these days.
The Atascadero High quarterback is actually on a basketball recruiting visit today in West Texas. A heralded 6-foot-4 combo guard, he has plenty of suitors, but he hasn’t given up on playing college football either.
To earn a scholarship on the gridiron, he knows he’ll have to take the Greyhounds on a deep playoff run, perhaps even to a CIF-Southern Section title. No pressure there.
On Friday night, with nowhere else for Berwick to focus but on early errors, the Morro Bay High football team dared the senior to beat it.
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They took about a quarter to get warmed up, but Berwick and the Greyhounds found their stride and put the Pirates away 35-0 to even their record on the season.
As Morro Bay focused on stuffing Atascadero’s running game, Berwick passed for 175 yards and three touchdowns, airing out the ball a week after completing just five passes for 58 yards in a season-opening 47-25 loss at defending Central Section champion Clovis North.
“I think I took too many shots downfield tonight,” said Berwick, who completed 9 of 20 passes, “but throwing the ball deep will loosen up the defense, and they’ll play off coverage. That opens up everything for the under routes or the flat routes.”
Morro Bay was vastly outnumbered. The Pirates dressed 30 players for the game. Atascadero listed more than 60 on its varsity roster.
Without much depth, Morro Bay chose to stack the box against the Atascadero run game, and the strategy worked early on.
“Morro Bay did a great job of stopping our run,” Greyhounds coach Vic Cooper said. “They said, you’re not going to run the ball down our throats, and that’s a testament to their coaching staff.
“I don’t think they tired or quit at all. … As much as we may have wanted to run them down, we really didn’t because we weren’t able to run the ball on them. If you’re not running the ball, you’re not wearing anybody out.”
Mark Martin led Atascadero with 37 rushing yards on nine carries, but most of that came with the second unit in the fourth quarter.
Starter Izaiah Cooks had 28 yards on 13 carries, and the Greyhounds were limited to just 77 yards on the ground. They ran for 255 yards against Clovis North.
Cooks opened the game with a 63-yard kickoff return, which, coupled with a touchdown-saving horsecollar tackle penalty tacked on, gave Atascadero first-and-goal at the 10-yard line.
But the Greyhounds went nowhere but backward. They turned the ball over on downs at the 25-yard line, and the Pirates sacked Berwick on each of Atascadero’s first two drives.
Berwick was just 1-for-5 passing to start the game, but fortunately for the Greyhounds, the Morro Bay offense was equally stymied.
Morro Bay managed just 14 passing yards in the game; the Pirates were led by running back Tristan Collins, who ran 21 times for a game-high 90 yards.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the first quarter that Cooks broke the goal line on a 4-yard run to give Atascadero a 7-0 lead.
Then Berwick caught fire, completing six of his next nine passes, including a 23-yarder to Cooks and a 4-yarder to Cooper Kuhnle in the second quarter.
Kuhnle set up the second score with a 59-yard catch that travelled at least 50 yards in the air.
Berwick had scrambled around in the pocket and unleashed a deep ball once Kuhnle had gotten past the Morro Bay safeties.
Berwick added a 25-yard scoring strike in the third quarter to Kuhnle, who finished with three catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
“That kid can just make plays,” Cooper said. “When he gets out of the pocket, he’s a force to be reckoned with.”