Mission Prep (5-2, 1-0 Northern) at Nipomo (4-4, 2-0 Northern)
Last week: Nipomo 37, Santa Maria 3; Mission Prep 42, Fillmore 0
This one is for all the marbles. Mission Prep beat Templeton 19-14 two weeks ago, setting the table for Friday night’s game with what is essentially a Northern League championship game. If Mission Prep wins, the Royals have a good chance to go undefeated with struggling Morro Bay and Santa Maria coming up. If Nipomo wins, a win against Templeton in the final game of the season would likely secure a tie between the Titans and Royals.
This game will be a classic good defense versus good offense matchup. Nipomo’s got the best defense in the league, led by David Leon, Clemente Ramiscal and Terry Wambolt, and has yielded just over 14 points per game this season. Mission Prep’s offense averages about 26 points per game and nearly 300 yards of offense. Whichever team can win in the trenches will take control of the Northern League. It should be fun.
Arroyo Grande (6-1, 1-0 PAC 5) at Righetti (2-5, 1-1 PAC 5)
Last week: Arroyo Grande, BYE; Atascadero 14, Righetti 7
Righetti shocked me, and probably a few other people, by nearly pulling off an upset over Atascadero last week at home. The offense, led by senior running back D.J. Freitas and freshman Chase Artopoeus, moved the ball on a tough Atascadero defense, but two second-half interceptions did in the Warriors. Freitas rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the game. He has 10 touchdowns on the season.
Although Atascadero is a good team, the Eagles of Arroyo Grande are on another level, and now they are rested. The biggest benefit of the bye week for Arroyo Grande will be the improved health of Joey DeLaRosa, who should play after missing the Eagles last game, a 42-0 win over Paso Robles, with a nagging turf toe injury. Arroyo Grande is scary on both sides of the ball, with linebacker Sam Ness leading the way for a defense that has recorded shutouts in its past two games and an offense that has weapons all over the field and is led by the PAC 5’s best quarterback in Sawyer May. Heading into this week, Arroyo Grande was ranked by MaxPreps.com as the 29th best team in the state.
Morro Bay (0-7, 0-2 Northern) at Santa Maria (1-6, 0-1 Northern)
Last week: Templeton 41, Morro Bay 13; Nipomo 37, Santa Maria 3
This is really a game between winless teams. Santa Maria’s only “win” came on a forfeit by Cabrillo after a technicality, so both teams will be looking for their first non-asterisk wins of the season. With its offense struggling, Morro Bay switched from a veer option offense to a power I last week against Templeton and got on the scoreboard for the first time in two weeks after being shut out by Nipomo and Paso Robles. Noah Clapp led the rushing attack for the Pirates with 120 yards on 26 carries, and quarterback Isaac Manuputy passed for 174 yards, his most this season, and rushed for 76 more.
Santa Maria has also struggled on offense this year, scoring just five touchdowns in seven games. Quarterback Isaiah Bernal is the team’s leading rusher and is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Bernal has shown he can be explosive at times this season. Against Righetti, Bernal rushed for 90 yards and passed for 119 yards in the loss.
San Luis Obispo (2-6, 0-2 PAC 5) at Atascadero (6-1, 1-0 PAC 5)
Last week: Paso Robles 38, San Luis Obispo 6; Atascadero 14, Righetti 7
Atascadero got its first league win last week, but coach Vic Cooper probably didn’t like the way his team got it done. After scoring on its only two drives of the first half, Atascadero’s offense was shut out in the second half. Luckily for the Greyhounds, the defense came up with two second-half interceptions to get the win. The run game, Atascadero’s bread and butter, wasn’t up to par. Atascadero rushed for 190 yards in the game, 74 yards below its season average. But that will likely change this week as San Luis Obispo makes its way up the grade.
Paso Robles’ backup running back Emmett Fox-Pendergrast rushed for 229 yards filling in for starter Christian Erickson. Look for R.J. Reusche, who had 119 yards rushing against Righetti, and Marc Martin to get the ground game going again. The Greyhounds will need to make sure to keep San Luis Obispo’s biggest weapon, receiver Delvon Jack, in check and not look past the Tigers to the biggest game of the season: next week’s showdown against Arroyo Grande.