The stakes were about as low as they’ve ever been in this rivalry.
The Arroyo Grande High football team could neither help nor hurt its PAC 7 standing and CIF-Southern Section playoff slotting going into Friday night’s game with neighboring San Luis Obispo, and no amount of points were going to catapult the Tigers (4-6, 1-5 PAC 7) into playoff contention.
So, the regular season ended with a ho-hum 56-14 blowout for the Eagles (7-3, 4-2 PAC 7), one where the Arroyo Grande starters spent the entire second half watching from the sidelines and San Luis Obispo had little to cheer for before the final quarter.
The Eagles were assured no worse than a third-place tie in the final conference standing and held tiebreakers that guaranteed they would be the league’s third postseason representative.
The victory did assure Arroyo Grande of sole possession of third place behind Atascadero and Paso Robles.
“Third isn’t the big deal,” Eagles coach Tom Goossen said. “It’s the ability to compete game in and game out.
“This senior group I could not be more proud of. We competed against every team we played. A break here or there, and it could be different, but no looking back. Just how well these kids played all year long, it’s a great tribute to them.”
Arroyo Grande got whatever it wanted in the rushing game. Of the Eagles’ 390 yards of total offense, 348 came on the ground. Arroyo Grande passed just twice.
While building a 48-0 first-half lead, the Eagles racked up 294 yards on 10.1 yards per carry.
By the break, fullback Grant Alton had two rushing touchdowns. So did quarterback Mikey Gutierrez. Sean St. Denis had two rushing scores, including a 44-yard touchdown, and Jordan Harrigan had a 60-yard touchdown run.
A receiver who gained his yardage on end-around sweeps and three kick returns into San Luis Obispo territory, St. Denis finished with a team-high 93 rushing yards on five carries. Harrigan carried six times for 92 yards.
“Jordan’s been going back and forth at tailback the last five-six games with Michael Jordano,” Goossen said. “They’re two very similar runners, strong and very upfield runners. Jordan made some good runs tonight. So, it was nice to see.”
As precisely as Arroyo Grande was executing in the first half, the Tigers were equally as sloppy.
San Luis Obispo fumbled the ball four times in the first quarter alone, losing two on botched option pitches.
In all, the Tigers fumbled six times and lost half of them, including one at their own 1-yard line on a kick return.
San Luis Obispo quarterback Thomas Orradre finished with 94 rushing yards, including a 37-yard touchdown, on 15 carries, and Nate Greenelsh had 91 yards on eight rushing attempts.
Sawyer Scott finished with a game-high 102 rushing yards and broke up the shutout with a 98-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left in the third quarter, but by then the Tigers were well out of it.
“You just can’t expect to turn the ball over like that in the first half and be competitive,” San Luis Obispo coach David Kelley said. “You just can’t do that.”