This time last year, Nipomo quarterback Brayden Groshart was midway through his first ever season behind center — on the freshman team. Now he’s leading a varsity squad that’s on track for its second straight Northern League title following Friday night’s 52-0 road victory over Morro Bay.
Things can certainly change in a flash.
“He’s continuing to get better,” Nipomo head coach Tony Dodge said.
After moving up to varsity for his sophomore season, Groshart has helped pilot the Titans rattle off three straight wins and a 2-0 league start.
And he’s not just along for the ride. Dodge said Groshart is in charge of plays — he calls everything. That was on display in Nipomo’s comprehensive victory over Morro Bay as Groshart was 12-of-20 passing for 140 yards and a touchdown to go along with 31 yards on three carries, including a 20-yard touchdown run — coming mostly in the first half of the rout.
“He’s cerebral, he’s very smart, which helps immensely being able to run all the stuff that we run,” Dodge said.
Groshart began learning the playbook last spring, and he said the learning curve was steep.
“Spring was hard, and it got a lot easier during summer,” Groshart said, adding that now that he knows the playbook, practices and has developed chemistry with receivers.
Bottom line, he feels comfortable.
The success hasn’t been without growing pains. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Groshart has shown his youth at times, missing receivers and turning the ball over as Nipomo struggled through a tough nonconference schedule, with stops at Central Coast powers Lompoc and Santa Ynez, with a 1-5 record to start the season.
“It was pretty tough at the beginning of the schedule,” Groshart said. “But I definitely feel like I’ve gotten a lot better.”
That’s to be expected, Dodge said, not only with Groshart but much of Nipomo’s young team.
However, it helped Groshart and the Titans prepare for what’s ahead.
The Titans have shown more balance this season between the passing and run game, with an emphasis on throwing down the field, a departure from run-first teams of past years. Nipomo can still run — the Titans had four rushing touchdowns against Morro Bay — but Groshart allows the Titans to do both.
Larger than the Titans’ entire offensive line, many of whom are also sophomores, Groshart is hard to bring down. His 20-yard rushing touchdown came while running the option. And showed his touch passing the ball on a fade to Jedu Matautia-Reyes in the end zone.
“The ceiling for him continues to rise,” Dodge said. “We haven’t seen it yet.”
A titan on defense
Nipomo’s defense has yet to concede a point in league play this season. Against Morro Bay, the Titans forced five turnovers — two interceptions by Anthony Perez, one by Adam Morales, a pick-six by Gage Wynn and a fumble recovery, also by Wynn. Simon Rodriguez also had two sacks.
Ground game flourishing
Nipomo’s young offensive line opened up holes for running backs to exploit. Luis-Diego Riquelme had 10 carries for 121 yards and two scores, each from 21 yards out.
Kicking game threat
The Titans also have a strong kicker in sophomore Ronaldo Flores, who nailed three field goals — one from 47 yards.
Nipomo (4-5, 2-0) will face Santa Maria (5-4, 2-0) on Friday in a game that will decide the Northern League title.