Arroyo Grande High’s football team was the PAC 7 co-champion last year and ended up losing in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs to Hart in a 48-6 blowout at home.
This year, the Eagles (8-3, 4-2) placed third in league and traveled for their first-round matchup against Quartz Hill of Lancaster, winning in a 40-0 rout.
The Eagles will try to continue their season tonight at 7 at home against Valencia (9-2, 5-0 Foothill League), the 39th ranked team in California, according to MaxPreps.com.
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Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said a varied offensive attack will be a key to success.
“We’ll need to run the ball and throw the ball well,” Goossen said. “They have some very good athletes. Many of our running backs are two-way players. So we’ll be substituting and getting them needed rest so they can play great D and play well offensively.”
Last week, in extremely windy conditions with gusts reaching up to 40 miles per hour in the High Desert, Arroyo Grande spread the wealth with its rushing attack.
Ten players had carries and four rushed for at least 30 yards.
Grant Alton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound fullback, led the barrage with 61 yards on the ground and two scores.
“He’s definitely big and a lot faster than most people realize when they look at him,” Goossen said. “Grant and Joe De La Rosa give us the size factor running the ball. Jordan Harrigan and Michael Jordano have more of a flash game.”
All five of the Eagles’ touchdowns against Quartz Hill were scored on the ground.
De La Rosa ran for 42 yards and a score while Harrigan logged 66 yards on 10 carries, and Jordan had 39 yards on seven carries.
Despite the blustery conditions, Eagles kicker Cole Ramey connected on two field goals, including a 30-yarder.
Ramey has been a strong contributor to the Eagles success this season, converting 45 of 48 PAT attempts and 10 of 14 field-goal attempts while averaging about 38 yards per punt. On kickoffs, Ramey has tallied 39 touchbacks.
Quarterback Mikey Gutierrez was one of the PAC 7’s most accurate passers with a 65.5 percent completion rate and 1,297 passing yards.
Gutierrez was limited to 3-of-10 passing for 26 yards and an interception last week, but he ran for a touchdown. On the season, he has 13 passing touchdowns with six interceptions and has rushed for eight scores.
Valencia will bring a prolific passing game that starts with quarterback Jake Wallace, who has logged 2,811 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Clips on Wallace’s highlight reel on YouTube show several deep passes downfield to streaking receivers and good scrambling ability.
“He makes great decisions and he’s real accurate,” Goossen said. “That’s going to create a challenge for us defensively.”
Last week, the Eagles’ defense was helped by interceptions from Tyler Auerbach and Thomas Fuentez, who will try to keep Wallace in check.
Arroyo Grande’s coach said a key will be to stay close with the Vikings.
“This will definitely be a difficult team to try to come back from a big margin against,” Goossen said. “It’s imperative that we do things correctly and keep it close. You never know what can happen at the end.”