PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Bearcats football team welcomed McClymonds High School (Oakland) to War Memorial Stadium last Friday night for their second game of the season and first under new interim head coach J.R. Reynolds. The McClymonds Warriors were the 5-A State Champions a season ago, making this a terrific measuring stick for the Bearcats football team at this early stage in the season and they did not disappoint.
The defense played strong all night, embracing the old football adage of bend but don't break. Meaning the Bearcats at times would give up a chunk of yards here and a chunk of yards there, but eliminated the big play touchdowns, forcing McClymonds to put together long sustained drives.
“It was great, you know being a guy that grew up in Paso Robles, and played here, and things like that, It was a very surreal moment,” Reynolds said of his head coaching debut. “I am truly honored to coach these kids that we have.”
Reynolds, who was serving as the offensive coordinator and has coached the junior varsity team to two undefeated season in back-to-back years, showed some of his offensive innovation Friday. After struggling to put points on the board against the Warriors, Paso elected to remove their wide receivers and run a tight formation with three running backs and two tight ends. Essentially a goal line formation, but kept their fast paced tempo, and ran it all the way down the field.
“It was a way to neutralize their speed, you know they are probably one of the fastest teams in the state of California. Everyone saw it Friday night with the things that they could do,” Reynolds said of the switch, “but for us it was a way to neutralize their speed by putting them into tight spaces… we scored once out of it and we had a good drive that stalled out of it, but it was something that we put in last week.”
The Paso offense’s best drive came in the third quarter, and was ignited by a 52 yard completion between quarterback Zach Hansen and receiver Kaiden Gallant on 3rd and 19. The long pass play put the Bearcats in scoring position, and Madrigal ran it in a few plays later (video on @ConnorCAllen’s twitter page).
The Paso defense played great from the very beginning — Noah Durfee intercepted the Warriors on the first possession of the game, giving their offense a short field to work with and sending the stadium into a frenzy. Linebacker Corbin Payne led the team in tackles with eight and safety Orlando Cortana finished second with six. The Bearcats gang tackled all night, always having multiple bodies around the ball carrier, only giving up one long run to McClymonds star quarterback Emoreaa Fountain. Fountain was big and fast and gave the defense fits, breaking one 78 yard touchdown late in the game that coach Reynolds took full responsibility for stating, “One of those long runs we aligned wrong. It was something where we messed up, coaching wise, we weren't prepared for that, and they beat us with a misalignment.” The final long touchdown run put the game just out of reach for the Bearcats who lost (9-20).
The Bearcats will play again at home this Friday as they welcome in Cajon High School (San Bernardino) to War Memorial Stadium. Cajon has a very high powered offense, scoring over 44 points in each of their first two games, but has also given up at least 30 points.
“Offensively they are pretty darn good. They have a wideout that is 6’7” who is the real deal, their quarterback is great,” Reynolds said of Cajon’s offense, “...but people have scored points on them and I think we are just starting to hit our stride offensively.”
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. If you can't make it, make sure to follow the Paso Robles Press and Sports Reporter Connor Allen (@ConnorCAllen) on Twitter and Facebook for live in-game updates, videos and more.