Paso Robles High football ready to forget last season, regain championship form

New Paso Robles High quarterback Steven Schouten throws a pass during practice Aug. 18.
New Paso Robles High quarterback Steven Schouten throws a pass during practice Aug. 18.

Steven Schouten and Christian Erickson have seen the good, the bad and everything in between in the past two seasons at Paso Robles High.

Two years ago, with some big-time talent, the team went 13-2 and captured a CIF-Southern Section Northern Division title.

Last season, the Bearcats took a big step back and finished the year 5-6.

“I want to be right back where we were two years ago on that CIF team,” said Schouten, now a senior. “Last year was an off team and I feel like we never really had that bond that we had that CIF year, but that is totally different this year.”

Schouten and Erickson will look to make big impacts in new roles. Schouten will take over as the starting quarterback and Erickson, who rushed for 175 yards per game and scored 13 touchdowns last season, will play more defense along with his role as tailback.

With senior leadership and talent all over the field, Paso Robles head coach Rich Schimke likes his team’s chances when it comes to a PAC 5 title.

Paso Robles at a glance

2015 record: 5-6 overall, 2-2 PAC 5

Paso Robles showed what might have been with a competitive showing against Lompoc in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, but the 35-34 loss to the Braves marked another missed oppurtunity against top Central Coast talent. Losses to St. Joseph (49-31), Arroyo Grande (42-0) and Atascadero (31-14) will certainly be motivation heading into 2016.

Key Departures

Justin Davis (QB), Matt Keller (LB/TE), Tristin Durfee (DB/WR), Blake Irysh (OL/DL), Evan Espinoza (OL/DL)

Davis, who quarterbacked the Bearcats section run in 2014, battled injuries last season but provided experience. Keller held down the defense at middle linebacker and Irysh played center on a young offensive line. Espinoza was a first-team all-league selection on defense.

Key Returners

Steven Schouten (QB, Sr.), Christian Erickson (RB/LB, Sr.), Mark Armstrong (LB/FB, Sr.), Seth Matthysse (WR, S, Sr.), Joseph Moscato (OL/DL, Sr.)

Schouten, who led the team in receiving yards last year, will replace Davis at quarterback and bring an element of athleticism not seen at the school for a while. Erickson, who gained over 2,000 total yards last season, is in the mix for 2016 County Player of the Year and will get plenty of run on defense as a hybrid linebacker/safety. Armstrong takes over at middle linebacker and Matthysse, who was second on the team in receiving, will likely be Schouten’s top target. Moscato, a first-team all league selection, will anchor the offensive and defensive lines that are still being sorted out.

Under The Radar

Jeremy Robinson (WR, Jr.), Marshall Wiesner (WR/DB, Soph.), Daniel Giroux (WR, Sr.), Nolan Binkle (DB/FB, Sr.)

If the Paso Robles offensive line can jell and Schouten can settle into his new role, the Bearcats should have plenty of weapons to throw to. Robinson, Wiesner and Giroux have all impressed in camp. Binkle, a star on the Paso Robles baseball team, is a big body (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) at safety and fullback that should bring more than a few hard hits.

Key Games

@Lemoore (Aug. 26), @Arroyo Grande (Oct. 7)

The Paso Robles vs. Atascadero game will always be big, but the first game of the season on the road against a good Lemoore team will be a huge test for not only Schouten at quarterback, but for a defense that gave up an average of 37.5 points in their six losses last season.

CIF-SS Power Ranking

Divison 3

Paso Robles and Atascadero round out the bottom of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 rankings. Paso Robles comes in at No. 18 out of 19 teams in Division 3 and No. 54 out of 306 teams in the CIF-Southern Section.

“I like being under the radar,” Schimke said. “The only way you can go is up.”