The San Luis Obispo High football team could’ve been content with merely winning Friday night.
The Tigers wanted a shutout while they were at it, though.
They got one, routing visiting Pioneer Valley 28-0 for a PAC 7 win at Holt Field. It was the first time San Luis Obispo (5-1, 2-0) — which is off to its best six-game start in five years — blanked an opponent since 2009.
“We’re focused on the win,” junior linebacker Jack Ferguson said, “but a shutout’s always nice. It’s a big confidence-booster for us.”
The Panthers (3-2, 0-1) threatened to get on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter, but a fourth-and-1 running play snapped 6 yards away from the end zone was stuffed by a swarm of Tigers tacklers, ending the drive on downs and nullifying what was essentially Pioneer Valley’s last true hope.
“That’s the desire part,” Tigers coach David Kelley said, alluding to a team motto. “We’re the three D’s: dedication, discipline and desire. They had the desire in their heart, a will to make that happen. And they willed that to happen. So that’s when you start to know you’re moving toward something special.
“What more can you ask for? Our defense just stepped up and took care of business.”
The Tigers held the Panthers to 152 yards of total offense.
“The shutout’s big,” San Luis Obispo wide receiver Trevor McGuire said. “We didn’t have a shutout all last year, so that was huge.”
Marek Johnson recovered a fumble, which was forced by Ferguson. Ferguson also deflected a pass and had two tackles for loss to help set the tone all in the first half, and Domenic Fountain had a sack for the Tigers.
San Luis Obispo wasn’t too bad on offense, either.
“It was ball-control, triple-option, great football,” Kelley said. “Our offensive line was just doing a great job.”
Jacob Flores, the county’s leading rusher, ran for 138 yards and a TD on 14 carries, and four other Tigers runners also had solid nights: Trevor MacLeod (seven carries for 31 yards), Jake Lacy (seven for 27), Erick Cordova (four for 20) and Bryan Coburn (four for 19 yards and two TDs).
“With the triple-option, they can take away two, but they can’t take away the third, so there’s always one (option) open,” McGuire said.Junior quarterback Garrett Giovannelli was 11-of-21 passing for 176 yards and a TD, with one interception.
McGuire was his primary target, catching five passes for 91 yards and a score.
The 6-foot-3 senior, who was lauded with nickname shouts of “Megatron” from teammates after the game (a moniker bestowed upon the Detroit Lions’ massive star receiver Calvin Johnson), scored his TD on a leaping grab of a 38-yard bomb, over the heads of two defenders battling for position in the end zone.
MacLeod was also a factor in the passing game, hauling in four passes for 77 yards.
The Tigers had 21 first downs on the night.
“We’ve got a lot of people we can throw it to,” McGuire said. “Anyone can catch the ball.”
In their quest to make it back to the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Tigers will visit Righetti next week.
“I feel like we’re starting to get things rolling,” Ferguson said. “We’ve still got to keep focused and can’t get too excited, but it’s definitely momentum for us.”