Arroyo Grande (7-1, 2-0 PAC 5) at Atascadero (7-1, 2-0 PAC 5)
Last week: Arroyo Grande 45, Righetti 0; Atascadero 46, San Luis Obispo 0
It’s the matchup high school football fans on the Central Coast have been waiting for. Two teams with identical 7-1 records and everything at stake. The game will feature two strong defenses and running attacks.
For Atascadero, it’s all Marc Martin and R.J. Reusche all the time. Rushing yards account for 74 percent of the Greyhounds offensive production. Martin and Reusche each average over 6.5 yards per carry. The two have combined for over 1,650 yards this season. Martin, who leads the team with 11 touchdowns, had two scores in last week’s win and Reusche had one, giving him four on the season. The Atascadero defense, led by Tannen Soojian with nine tackles for loss this season, has given up just under 13 points per game in its past five games.
Arroyo Grande’s offense is split nearly down the middle. The Eagles average 182 yards through the air and 209 on the ground, making it difficult to game plan on defense. Arroyo Grande’s Sawyer May is coming off a 15 of 19, 181-yard, two-touchdown performance — and his highest quarterback rating of the season. May has thrown just one interception on 126 pass attempts this season. On defense linebacker Sam Ness is averaging just over 12 tackles a game for a defense that has not allowed a point in its past three wins. If Arroyo Grande wins, it will all but lock up the PAC 5 title.
If Atascadero wins, it will still need to beat Paso Robles in its final game of the season to finish undefeated in league play and win the title. Arroyo Grande defeated Atascadero 35-21 in last season’s game that had to be completed on Saturday due to a power outage.
Mission Prep (6-2, 2-0 Northern) at Santa Maria (2-6, 1-1 Northern)
Last week: Mission Prep 24, Nipomo 7; Santa Maria 31, Morro Bay 7
Mission Prep is coming off its biggest win since joining the Northern League this season. All the Royals need to do is beat two teams with the worst records in the league and the title is theirs. The confidence of Mission Prep quarterback Bryce Fledderman is sky-high. The junior passer had his best passing performance in his team’s biggest game of the season, finishing the game 17 of 23 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also completed his first 10 passes, three of which went for scores.
Fledderman, who is getting hot at the right time, has not thrown a pick in his past three games after tossing six in the first five games of the season. Fledderman is backed up by the Northern League’s leading rusher and scorer, Brayden Corona. The junior running back has 826 yards on the season and nine rushing touchdowns. Corona scored his first receiving touchdown of the season, a 28-yard pass from Fledderman, in the win against Nipomo.
The Royals defense, which has allowed seven points per game in its last three games, got a breakout, three-sack performance by defensive lineman Conrad Ochotorena last week. Ochotorena and Jacob Wright, who has 13 tackles for loss this season, will be cut loose on a struggling Santa Maria offense that has scored nine touchdowns all season.
Nipomo (4-5, 2-1 Northern) at Templeton (5-3, 1-1 Northern)
Last week: Mission Prep 24, Nipomo 7; Templeton, BYE
Both of these teams still have a small chance to win the Northern League (if Mission Prep loses one of its final two games), but first they will need to win tonight. In Nipomo’s final game of the regular season, it will first need to improve an offense that struggled to find consistency against Mission Prep.
Quarterback Gavin Hall threw two costly interceptions, one in the first half that led to a Royals touchdown and another as Nipomo began to get momentum in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with 115 yards passing. Running back Antonio Navarro was the most consistent player for the Titans in the loss, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Nipomo will look to get pressure on Templeton quarterback Jordan Bernal with its big offensive line led by David Leon, the Northern League’s leader in sacks. Leon had two sacks in last week’s loss, pushing his season total to seven.
After its offense struggled three weeks ago in a 19-14 loss to Mission Prep, Templeton was able to get back on the scoreboard in a big way two weeks ago, scoring 41 in a win over winless Morro Bay. Bernal had his most efficient game of the season in the win, throwing for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Templeton will need a good game from Bernal and more consistent production from running backs Nate Avery and Michael Capelli if it wants to keep its title hopes alive.
Righetti (2-6, 1-2 PAC 5) at Paso Robles (4-4, 1-1 PAC 5)
Last week: Arroyo Grande 45, Righetti 0; Paso Robles, BYE
For Paso Robles, tonight’s game against Righetti is a must win. Best-case scenario for the Bearcats includes a win against Righetti, a loss by Arroyo Grande to Atascadero and a win over Atascadero to end the season. That would make a three-way tie between the teams, repeating the scenario from last season. But first things first. Paso Robles should return most of its starters, including quarterback Justin Davis and running back Christian Erickson, who sat out two weeks ago in a 38-6 win over San Luis Obispo. Despite sitting out a game and a bye last week, Erickson still leads the PAC 5 in rushing yards with 1,244. Right behind Erickson is Righetti running back D.J. Freitas. The senior has 856 rushing yards on the season and has scored 10 touchdowns. Arroyo Grande’s defense was able to keep Freitas in check last week, holding him to just 29 yards on 14 carries.
PAC 5 Leading Rushers
- Christian Erickson (Paso Robles): 1244
- Dj Freitas (Righetti): 856
- Marc Martin (Atascadero): 841
- R.J. Reusche (Atascadero): 812
- Pierson Mosichuk (San Luis Obispo): 511