This time, rivalry might have taken a backseat to playoff chances, and the Arroyo Grande High football team — quarterback Brent Vanderveen in particular — ran away with them.
With the winner of Friday’s game at Holt Field looking to sew up third place and the PAC 7’s perceived all-but-automatic wildcard playoff berth, Vanderveen was in on five touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards while leading the Eagles (8-2, 4-2 PAC 7) to a 42-6 road victory over San Luis Obispo in the regular-season finale.
“The last few weeks, he’s been running really well,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said, “and when he chooses to get going, he doesn’t look very fast, but those strides of his are long, and I think it’s pretty deceptive when he gets going. It’s been an important addition to what we’ve been doing offensively.”
Vanderveen was 14 of 27 passing for 232 yards and three touchdowns, but the 6-foot-5, 203-pound junior’s biggest contribution might have come on the ground. He ran 11 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers (4-6, 2-4 PAC 7) concentrated on stopping Eagles running back Christian Crichton, who ground out most of his 91 yards in the fourth quarter.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Some of them were play-action passes, where I had two receivers doing routes, and I could run it,” Vanderveen said, “and the run was wide open.”
Vanderveen opened the scoring with a 32-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and the offense opened up from there.
“They played really hard on the run and played receivers 1-on-1,” he said, “and we took advantage of it.”
San Luis Obispo got a game-high nine catches and 174 receiving yards from senior Mason Orradre, including receptions of 44 and 57 yards. Tigers quarterback Anthony Maez ended up with 255 yards passing, mostly to Orradre.
“Mason’s a next-level kid,” San Luis Obispo coach David Kelley said. “If people are watching, he’s a next-level kid. I don’t know where, and I don’t know what level, but he should be playing on Saturdays.”
The problem with the Tigers was how they seemed set on squandering their best chances to score. They lost three of four fumbles, including one that killed a consistent drive in Arroyo Grande territory, and one of Orradre’s big catches to set San Luis Obispo up deep in the red zone was followed by two costly penalties.
The Tigers didn’t score until Jake Lacey caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Maez in the fourth quarter, but already trailing 35-0 at that point, a comeback was far-fetched.
“It’s just a great symbol as far as where we are at as a team,” Kelley said of the penalties and turnovers. “We’re a good team, but we can’t do those things. Great teams don’t make those mistakes.”
Had San Luis Obispo been able to pull off the win, the worst the Tigers could have done was a three-way tie with the Eagles and Righetti, with wins over both of them.
As it is, Arroyo Grande should get one of the Western Division’s four at-large berths for the 16-team playoff bracket, which will be announced Sunday.
There has been talk of the PAC 7 receiving two at-large spots, but if so, the next playoff bid would go to Righetti (6-4, 3-3 PAC 7), which finished off the season with a 28-17 win over Pioneer Valley.
“I would certainly hope that we’ll get a wild-card team at the very least,” Goossen said, “and I don’t think it would be outlandish to get one other team from our league because you go up and down our league, and there are some good teams. They’d be competing for championships in other leagues in our division.”