The way the Paso Robles High football team was moving the ball during the first half Friday night against Santa Ynez, it seemed as if it’d only be a matter of time before the Bearcats had something to really show for it.
Sure enough, Paso Robles was able to finish drives with touchdowns in the second half and held on to beat the Pirates for a nonleague home win, 27-7.
The early second-half scores gave Paso Robles some breathing room after a somewhat mistake-prone first half, during which the Bearcats outgained Santa Ynez 195-24 but led just 6-0 on a pair of Garrett Schasteen field goals from 39 and 19 yards.
“The whole defense, in that first half, we were like, ‘Just keep them off the scoreboard and we can win this game,’ ” Bearcats linebacker David Katz said.
Paso Robles’ versatile senior star, Elias Stokes, threw a 41-yard TD pass to receiver Max Blanton and then tossed a 23-yard scoring strike to running back Colton Madrigal to make it 20-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“I think we left some points on the field in the first half,” Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke said. “We kept calm at halftime, and the guys knew that we were playing good football. We came out and controlled the game in the third quarter.”
Abe Santos punched in a 1-yard TD run for Santa Ynez early in the fourth, but Madrigal rumbled into the end zone for a 14-yard TD run to provide the final margin with seven minutes left in the game.
Stokes played primarily at receiver in 2010. He also took plenty of direct snaps as a junior, primarily in a running role akin to a wildcat formation, although Paso Robles’ staff has long had faith in the all-county outfielder’s throwing arm as well.
Rotating all night with junior quarterback Garrett Nelson, Stokes went 8-of-15 passing for 136 yards and two TDs with one interception.
Stokes also ran for 54 yards on 12 carries, had a six-yard catch, returned a punt for 13 yards and played some at defensive back.
Madrigal, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior who’s also a standout on the wrestling mat, rushed for 161 yards on 21 carries.
“Colton was somebody that I saw on the JVs last year that I thought ran super-hard, and that’s what we expected him to do (at the varsity level),” Schimke said. “He ran like I expected him to.”
Mac Stuart added two catches for 36 yards for Paso Robles (1-1), which was coming off a 37-10 loss to Central of Fresno, a top-50 team in the state, followed by a bye week.
“That bye week really helped us get together,” Katz said. “Our offense came through, and the defense shut them down (Friday night). I was happy with how we all played.”
While it took the offense a while to capitalize, the Bearcats’ defense consistently gave Santa Ynez (1-1) little hope for a comeback, forcing five punts, recovering two fumbles and hurrying throws all night.
“The defense played stellar,” Schimke said.
Blanton and Alec Flynn had interceptions in the secondary. Katz, a third-year starter, had two quarterback sacks, and Deonte Willis, Jordan Ethridge, Eli Vargas and Josh Hayley all had one.
“I’m going to give that to the coaches,” Katz said. “They were very smart with how they blitzed the right people at the right times.”
Santa Ynez quarterback Ryan Welker completed 7-of-19 passes for 98 yards with two interceptions. The Pirates’ running backs were held to 48 yards on 22 carries.
Next week the Bearcats will travel to face Centennial of Bakersfield, a team with a similar statewide ranking to that of Central.