High School Sports

Paso Robles football ready to move on from challenging 2016 season with new coach

Paso Robles High head coach Larry Grant leads his team during preseason practice. David Middlecamp 8-14-2017
Paso Robles High head coach Larry Grant leads his team during preseason practice. David Middlecamp 8-14-2017 dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A star injured in its biggest game of the season. The syrup incident.

The Paso Robles High School football team had its fair share of adversity in 2016. Following the firing of longtime head coach Rich Schimke following a locker-room incident with a player, Larry Grant is the man tasked with returning the Bearcats to championship glory.

Grant certainly has the winning pedigree, having played as a linebacker at Ohio State and in the NFL as a member of the San Francisco 49ers during their Super Bowl run in 2013.

“What I want to bring is my knowledge,” Grant said. “Being that I have been to so many different places, learned from so many different guys, I didn’t want to just be a player. I got notebooks after notebooks full of notes to this day from when I played five years ago.”

Grant has brought his high-energy style of coaching and a pair of talented family members to a Paso Robles football program in need of a new voice. Luckily for him, the team has a core group of seniors ready to listen and make another run at a league and beyond.

Former NFL player and new Paso Robles High head football coach Larry Grant brought two family members with him to the field for the 2017 season.

Paso Robles at a glance

2016 record: 8-3 overall, 3-1 PAC 5

Paso Robles started the season on a five-game winning streak before losing to eventual CIF-Southern Section Division 4 Champion Sierra Canyon in a nonconference game and then eventual PAC 5 champion Arroyo Grande a week later. The season ended with a 46-6 loss to La Mirada in the first round of the playoffs.

Key Departures

Steven Schouten (QB), Christian Erickson (RB/LB), Mark Armstrong (LB/FB), Nolan Binkele (DB/TE)

Erickson was the best running back in the county and the 2016 Tribune Player of the Year. He accounted for more than 1,400 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns. Schouten was incredibly athletic as the quarterback, and Armstrong and Binkele were leaders on defense.

Key Returners

Scott Pedretti (OL, Sr.), Zach Hanson (QB, Sr.), Cade England (K, Sr.), Orlando Quintana (LB/RB, Sr.)

Pedretti, the team’s starting center, is the only starter returning to an inexperienced — but big — offensive line. Hanson takes over as the starting quarterback for an offense that will be led by new coordinator J.R. Reynolds, who led the junior varsity team to an undefeated record last season. Cade England is a weapon as a punter and place kicker, and Quintana will play a big role as the backup running back and linebacker.

Under The Radar

Fredrick Thompkins (WR/DB, Sr.), Sincere Jackson (DB, Sr.), Julian Madrigal (RB/DB, Sr.), Austin Gutierrez (TE, Sr.)

Thompkins, the god son of Grant’s brother who transferred from Kimball, is set to be a breakout star as a wideout and safety with a big frame and breakaway speed. Jackson, the son of Grant’s cousin, transferred to Paso Robles from the Bay Area and provides a big body (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) at cornerback. Both are still going through the transfer process and the timetable for when and if they will take the field is still up in the air. Madrigal played special teams last season, but this year he will be the Bearcats’ every down running back. Gutierrez, another big body at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, should be a nice red-zone weapon at tight end.

Key Games

@Clovis North (Sept. 22), @Arroyo Grande (Oct. 6)

Grant was an assistant for Clovis North until he was fired in the middle of last season after a loss to Paso Robles.

CIF-Southern Section Power Ranking

Division 4, No. 65

Paso Robles moved down this season from Division 3 to Division 4.

The Tribune 2017 prep football preview

Over the coming days, The Tribune will roll out its 2017 high school football preview looking at teams, top players and story lines from San Luis Obispo County schools leading to the opening of the season Friday. Find new daily content online at sanluisobispo.com/sports and in the Sports section.

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