Heading into Atascadero’s matchup against Righetti on Friday, I was pretty sure the Greyhounds would be able to compete with Arroyo Grande for a PAC 5 championship.
But after the game, I’m not so sure.
After scoring two touchdowns on two possessions in the first half on long, rush-heavy drives, Atascadero was held scoreless in the second half and gained just 63 yards. The quick defensive line of Righetti was able to keep the Atascadero run game in check, and Warriors linemen Seth Ollice and Zach Burg each had sacks.
“If we put two halfs of offense together and two halfs of defense together, then maybe it’s a different story,” Atascadero coach Vic Cooper said.
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What’s more concerning is that Atascadero did the same thing last week, losing a 21-point first half lead to visiting James Logan before pulling out the overtime win.
So why the let down against Righetti? It was set up to be a classic trap game. Atascadero was coming off a thrilling win against a very good James Logan team and might have been looking forward a couple weeks to Arroyo Grande. Plus, Righetti was at home on homecoming night and looking to prove something. D.J. Freitas sure proved that he’s one of the top running backs in the PAC 5 with a 17 carry, 123 yard first half performance.
The good news for Atascadero is its defense has been fantastic. In the second half against Righetti, the defense gave up 89 yards in the second half and picked off Righetti quarterback Chase Artopoeus twice. The defense held James Logan scoreless through three quarters before five second half turnovers by the Atascadero offense gave James Logan great field position.
Atascadero keeps winning, which is the goal, obviously. But, in order to keep up with Arroyo Grande, Atascadero will need more consistent quarterback play. The offense is set up to excel by using play-action. The Greyhounds’ second touchdown of the night was a play-action pass from Carson Rinkenberger to Marc Martin. Rinkenberger and Elijah Cooks split time at quarterback again, but if I had to guess, Rinkenberger will be the full-time starter from here on out with Cooks coming in for short-yardage situations. Rinkenberger looked better managing the offense with mostly short passes. Cooks will continue to contribute in the passing game, though. The two connected for the longest pass play of the game when Rinkenberger found Cooks, who also plays tight end, up the seam for a 25-yard gain.
Atascadero will have one more game against a struggling San Luis Obispo team before facing Arroyo Grande on Oct. 30.
Northern League Showdown
No need to look too far ahead in the Northern League, the champion will likely be decided this Friday as Nipomo hosts Mission Prep.
Neither team had a challenge this week. Nipomo moved to 2-0 in the Northern League after a 37-3 win over Santa Maria. Mission Prep played its final non-league game on the road against Fillmore and won handily, 42-0.
I will look at this matchup more in-depth later in the week but for now here’s what you need to know: Nipomo defense, Mission Prep offense.
I love matchups like this because you get to see the strengths of each team on the field at the same time. And both of these teams have something to prove. Mission Prep is trying to prove it can play with the bigger schools while Nipomo is trying to prove that it is better than its record suggests and that last year’s championship wasn’t a fluke.
Arroyo Grande had its bye this week. No one on the Eagles welcomed a week off more than running back Joey DeLaRosa who has been dealing with a foot injury since early in the season. He reaggravated the injury against Nipomo and sat out in the win over Paso Robles. Expect him to be back on the field when Arroyo Grande takes on Righetti on Friday.
Morro Bay has lost all eight games it has played this season, so coach David Kelley decided to switch things up this week. Kelley installed a now power I formation and went away from the veer triple option it had been using all season. The numbers improved, but the result was the same. Templeton beat the Pirates, 41-13.
Paso Robles showed signs of life in a 38-6 win over San Luis Obispo. Even without 10 starters, including running back Christian Erickson and quarterback Justin Davis, the Bearcats moved the ball easily with backup running back Elijah Palomino who rushed 33 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns. If Paso Robles can beat Atascadero and Atascadero can beat Arroyo Grande, we could be looking at another three-way tie atop the PAC 5 when league play is over, but that’s a big if.