High School Sports

Central Coast prep football teams prepare for playoffs

dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The prep football regular season wrapped up Friday night and things went pretty much as expected. Arroyo Grande and Mission Prep won convincingly to lock up undefeated PAC 5 and Northern League titles, respectively. Atascadero took out Paso Robles, Templeton drummed Santa Maria and Nipomo got the week off.

With the playoff brackets coming out Sunday morning, it’s time to take a look ahead at which teams on the Central Coast will likely make the playoffs and where they will be seeded when play begins Friday.

Arroyo Grande Eagles

9-1, 4-0 PAC 5

Season Summary: For the first time in the history of the PAC 5, the winner went undefeated in league play. Okay, so the newly formed league is only in its second year, but that doesn’t diminish what Arroyo Grande was able to accomplish this season. All the Eagles defense did was allow 10 total points against the best of the PAC 5, all potential playoff teams, and won each PAC 5 game by an average margin of 34 points. Arroyo Grande’s only blemish of the season was a 27-13 loss to undefeated Camarillo, the 11th-ranked team in the state, according to MaxPreps.com. The Eagles are a complete team that should make a deep playoff run.

Signature Win: Arroyo Grande opened the season with a 34-28 win over Lompoc, handing the Braves its only loss this season. Lompoc is projected as the No. 3 overall seed in the Southern Section Northern Division after finishing the season as Los Padres League Champions.

Playoffs Last Season: Arroyo Grande suffered a heartbreaking 28-21 loss to Paso Robles in the semifinals.

Playoff Projection: Arroyo Grande will be the top seed from the PAC 5 (No. 2 overall) and will likely be matched up with one of the at-large teams for a home game for the first round.

Atascadero Greyhounds

8-2, 3-1 PAC 5

Season Summary: Atascadero had its fair share of close games all season, including a 26-23 win over Stockdale and a 28-27 overtime win against James Logan. The Greyhounds have relied on a strong running game all season, but it has been the play of the defense late in the season that has been impressive. If Atascadero can limit turnovers and get consistent quarterback play, it can be dangerous.

Signature Win: Atascadero beat Paso Robles for the third time in a row Friday night. The Greyhounds defense forced three turnovers in the 31-14 win to cap the regular season. Atascadero’s only two losses this season were to Saint Francis and Arroyo Grande, the 27th and 26th ranked teams in California, respectively.

Playoffs Last Season: Atascadero had over 500 yards of total offense in a semifinal game against Newbury Park and lost, 49-48. Just don’t ask anyone on the team about it.

Playoff Projection: Atascadero could face Thousand Oaks, a rematch of the first round in last season’s playoffs, in the first round of the bracket as the Lancers finished the season in second place behind Camarillo in the Camino League.

Paso Robles Bearcats

5-5, 2-2 PAC 5

Season Summary: Paso Robles record sums up its season — half the time it was good, the other half it was bad. The Bearcats either won easily or got beat handily despite having Christian Erickson, the most prolific running back in the Northern Divsion in terms of yards. A shutout loss to Arroyo Grande and the season-ending loss at home to Atascadero were killers. The Paso Robles defense is playing well enough to win, but the team needs to find consistency on offense if it wants to make it out of the first round.

Signature Win: The only real win of note was a 30-0 win over Righetti, a potential playoff team, two weeks ago. Paso Robles did open the season with a narrow 27-24 loss to Clovis, a team that finished the year 9-1 and ranks in the top 60 in the state.

Playoffs Last Season: Paso Robles beat Royal, Palmdale, Arroyo Grande and Newbury Park to win the CIF-Southern Section Northern Divison Championship.

Playoff Projection: Paso Robles should pick up one of the at-large bids and could play Atascadero again in the first round, but in all likelihood they will get paired up with Bishop Diego, the winner of the Tri Valley League.

Mission Prep Royals

8-2, 4-0 Northern

Season Summary: Mission Prep really turned the corner this season behind a balanced offensive and defensive attack. The Royals only losses were to Bishop Diego and Sierra Canyon, schools that are much larger and both finished the season 10-0. On offense, Mission Prep has shown it can win throwing or running the ball and on defense two of the best pass rushers in the Northern League will cause trouble for quarterbacks when the playoffs start.

Signature Win: Mission Prep’s 19-14 win over Templeton was big, but a 24-7 win at Nipomo showed that the Royals are for real.

Playoffs Last Season: In its first year playing in the Northern League, Mission Prep finished 4-7 overall and 1-3 in league play and lost 47-21 to Maranatha in the first round.

Playoff Projection: Mission Prep will enter as the top seed from the Northern League and could be paired with Heritage Christian, the third-place team in the Olympic League.

Nipomo Titans

5-5, 3-1 Northern

Season Summary: Nipomo played a tough nonleague schedule with the hopes that it would pay dividends in the playoffs. Behind its strong defense, Nipomo had good showings in losses to Lompoc and Atascadero. But the offense, especially the passing game, has struggled to find its rhythm all season. Nipomo will need to lean heavily on running back Antonio Navarro and the defense to get out of the first round.

Signature Win: Strong showings in losses to good teams has been the mark of Nipomo, but the season-ending 29-19 win over Templeton secured the second spot in the Northern League standings and gave the team some good vibes heading into the playoffs.

Playoffs Last Season: Nipomo made a historic run through the Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs, through Bishop Montgomery, Shadow Hills Polytechnic and Arrowhead Christian, to win the first division title in school history.

Playoff Projection: Nipomo could be matched up against Verbum Dei (4-6, 2-1 South Catholic), who finished in the South Catholic League, in the first round.

Templeton Eagles

6-4, 2-2 Northern

Season Summary: It was a tale of two halves for Templeton. The Eagles started the season 4-0 before finishing the season on a 2-4 skid. The second half troubles were exacerbated by the loss of Isaac Lindsey. The Eagles running game has sputtered lately, but the elevated play of quarterback Jordan Bernal and wide receiver Matteo D’Alfonso give the team hope in the playoffs.

Signature Win: Templeton had an offensive explosion against San Luis Obispo, scoring 60 points and rushing for 334 yards.

Playoffs Last Season: Templeton beat Heritage Christian and Big Bear before falling to Arrowhead Christian in the semifinals, 40-30.

Playoff Projection: Templeton will likely be an at-large bid and could be paired up with Ontario Christian or Bishop Montgomery.

Others In The Area

The Central Coast will be well-represented in the Southern Section Northern Division bracket. Lompoc (8-1, 3-0 LPL) and St. Joseph (7-2, 2-1 LPL) are expected to have high seeds while Santa Ynez (7-2, 1-2 LPL), Pioneer Valley (4-5, 2-2 LPL) and Righetti (2-7, 1-3 PAC 5) should squeeze in.

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