After a long nonconference season, the Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles high school football teams will finally get a chance to square off to open PAC 5 play Friday night.
It’s a matchup of teams headed in different directions. But when it comes to a game between these traditional Central Coast powers, all bets are off.
Arroyo Grande (4-2) has ripped off four straight wins led by the resurgent play of junior running back James Gilmet. He leads the PAC 5 with eight rushing touchdowns and has run for 461 yards and seven touchdowns over his past three games.
Identifying a Bearcats star proves a little more difficult, but Paso Robles (1-4) still has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, led by senior running back Julian Madrigal. Paso Robles senior cornerback Sincere Jackson, a talented transfer from Bay Area powerhouse Serra, will see his first game action of the season after sitting out due to his transfer.
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It also will be a battle of young quarterbacks, as Paso Robles sophomore Hunter Barnhart — expected to make his third start of the season — goes up against Arroyo Grande junior Kadin Byrne.
Arroyo Grande holds the slight edge in the series over the past five seasons with a 3-2 record, with three games having been decided by a touchdown or less.
The winner will be the favorite to win the 2017 PAC 5 title.
Nipomo at Templeton, 7 p.m.
In another league game that will go a long way toward determining a championship, title holder Nipomo (1-5) travels to take on Templeton (2-4) to open Northern League play.
Nipomo is led by a strong defense that has seven interceptions in six games, two by junior Ricky Iniguez. Nipomo freshman Keyshawn Pua is having a strong start to his high school career and leads the team in solo tackles (30) and tackles for loss (5). His older brother, senior Elyaz Pua, is right behind him with four tackles for loss and 25 solo tackles.
They will look to slow down the uptempo Templeton offense, minus junior running back Shane Simonin, who is out with an injury. Paso Robles transfer Colton Boronda will also make his first start as an offensive and defensive lineman for Templeton. He was a Tribune All-County defensive lineman last season at Paso Robles.
Santa Ynez at Morro Bay, 7 p.m.
Morro Bay (1-5) will have to slow down one of the best offenses around Friday night when Santa Ynez (5-0) comes to town. Santa Ynez is averaging more than 50 points per game this season led by the dangerous duo of senior quarterback Dustin Gregg and senior wide receiver Gabe Prendergast. The two have accounted for 13 touchdowns so far.
Morro Bay junior quarterback Aidan Moriarty will likely need another record-breaking performance, like he had last week when he threw for six touchdowns and 485 yards against Cabrillo, if the Pirates are to pull off the upset.
Righetti at SLO High, 7 p.m.
SLO High (1-4) and Righetti (2-3) will open their PAC 5 seasons in San Luis Obispo, with both teams coming off losses. Based on common opponents this season, Righetti should have the edge in the game led by a strong defense.
SLO High will look to get its go-to guy, senior running back Pierson Mosichuk, going again. He’s averaging more than 132 yards rushing per game.
Cuyama Valley at Coast Union, 7 p.m.
Coast Union (3-2, 1-0 CVL) has won three in a row heading into its matchup with Coast Valley League rivals Cuyama Valley (1-2, 1-0 CVL).
Windward at Mission Prep, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
With hot weather and scheduling issues making it hard for Mission Prep to see the field, the Royals will finally be back in action for a weekend game against Windward (3-2), it’s toughest game yet. Windward is ranked No. 10 in Division 1, while Mission Prep (3-0), led by Brian Kowall and his seven rushing touchdowns, holds a No. 6 ranking in the latest poll from the CIF-Southern Section.