Last season was a tough one for the Atascadero High football team.
Home losses to Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and PAC 7 champion Arroyo Grande kept the Greyhounds out of the playoffs. And with the departure of 27 seniors from last year’s team, Atascadero now faces the challenge of fielding one of the youngest squads in the PAC 7.
One of the returnees, thought, is junior quarterback and second-year starter Robbie Ber-wick, who threw for 1,245 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore.
“I think last year was a growing year for me,” Berwick said. “A lot of the older kids, it was tough to hang with them sometimes. It was definitely new for me.”
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Berwick got to work early and often in the offseason, setting the tone in the weight room as well as the classroom.
“Watching film from last year is very humbling. I know I made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I put a lot of those losses on myself because I think I could have taken care of the ball a little bit better during clutch time. It was tough.”
His teammates have taken notice of his work ethic this summer, and they have high hopes for their field general.
“He’s working a lot harder,” senior tight end and linebacker Dominic Chance said. “Maturity wise, he’s been doing really good stepping up, keeping the team in line, keeping them working and keeping the hustle up. So far, he’s been doing a great job.”
That’s the message coach Vic Cooper has been preaching to his team, one that lacks the star power of years past. His seniors, including Chance, have taken heed.
“The seniors have done a great job,” Cooper said. “A lot of times you have trouble with seniors thinking it’s their team and it’s their year. This group has done a really good job of understanding that they can’t achieve their goals without the juniors. They’ve done a good job of bringing them in and putting them under their wing and they’ve really developed these last few weeks.”
Cooper also stressed the importance of moving on from the tough losses of last year.
“You can’t really look back. You have to look forward,” Cooper said. “If you’re looking back, you’re falling behind. Certainly when you go back you’re going to learn from the mistakes you made in those games. But you’re not going to sit there and dwell on it.”
It can be easy for a young team to lose focus, to shy away from the hard work of the long season. But Cooper and the rest of the Greyhounds have embraced the challenge that lies ahead, together, and hope that the work they’ve done this summer can lead to success in PAC 7 play.
“We’ve come together, like brothers,” Chance said. “This year it’s like a family, which is a necessity to become a great team. We’re trying to come out here, work harder, get past those losses from last year and win the PAC 7.”