PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Bearcats opened their 2019-20 football season on Friday, Aug. 16, with a home scrimmage against the Nipomo Titans as they have done for the past two years but this time they emerged with a 21-3 win as they showcased their new offense and defense to the public.
It was a perfect Friday night at War Memorial Stadium and many local supporters made their way to the stadium to get their first peek at their new-look Bearcats and they did not leave disappointed. Neither JR Reynolds (Paso Robles head coach) nor Tony Dodge (Nipomo head coach) made it more than a page or two deep in their playbooks on either side of the ball and admitted as such postgame.
Both the Bearcats and the Titans are hoping to be contenders in Division 2 of the CIF Central Section so it makes sense that neither team would want to show their cards to each other or the rest of the Central Coast in their warm-up scrimmage.
Braden Waterman and the Bearcat offense operated only from the shotgun on Friday night and scored two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground. The first quarter was primarily a battle of field position for the two teams who battled it out between the 30’s excluding the Titans first drive that resulted in a 22-yard field goal and their only points of the evening.
After finding their footing the Bearcats started moving the ball well on the ground with Gerald Norte and company in the backfield as well as short passes to the wide receivers. As expected coming into the season it appears the Bearcats have good depth at their skill positions and will look to spread the ball around to their playmakers.
While Paso Robles does lose their top receivers from a year ago in Kaden Gallant and Marshall Weisner, they have a deeper group of pass catchers this year that starts with Waterman’s favorite target, Seth Maldonado, who caught the lone touchdown pass of the evening. Dean Connors, Levi Marshall, Jakob Ribera all took turns out wide for the Bearcats and will look to open things up this season inside for Norte.
Waterman ran for the first touchdown, scrambling on a broken play and just barely making it into the endzone and threw for his second albeit on a pass his coach might prefer he didn’t make. In the second quarter up 7-3, Waterman scrambled out to his right at about the 15-yard line surveying the defense for a place to go with the ball. The junior quarterback then saw his slot receiver running along the back of the endzone and stopped and immediately fired the ball from numbers back to the middle of the field. Everyone that grew up watching football silently gasped as he let go of the ball, but it worked out just fine.
The Bearcats made a few subs offensively in the third quarter which is when Cris Magolona and Maldonado made the most exciting play of the game. Magolona zipped his first pass of the game perfectly over to Maldonado on a bubble screen with just a flick of the wrist and the shifty receiver did the rest taking it 40 yards to the house weaving in and out of defenders down the sideline like a motorcycle stuck in five o’clock traffic.
Defensively the Bearcats came out running a 3-4 scheme in Tim Alvord’s defense which is something he mentioned on the radio before the game that is kind of due to necessity because in order to run a 4-3 you need at least four big boys to battle it out in the trenches.
The defense is anchored by Kazi Hill who occupies the nose guard position and will be key to the Bearcats success. If the big man can two-gap centers, hold his ground and be stout in the running the game as he did on Friday the Paso Robles defense will return to the form of old.
The Titans moved the ball well on their first drive taking it all the way into the red zone with relative ease but were stymied at the 11 by the Bearcats and forced to kick a field goal, their only points of the night. Following the first drive, the Titans offense had trouble picking up first downs consistently.
The Paso Robles secondary looked up to the task as well of Friday and even recorded a takeaway on a Taylor Bonham interception in the second quarter.
Paso Robles has a tough opener Friday, Aug. 23, as it welcomes Bakersfield-Liberty High School who finished as the CIF Central Section Division 1 runner-up last season falling to Fresno-Central in the title game and finishing the season 12-2. The Bearcats are going to need a rowdy crowd if they hope to pull off the huge upset at War Memorial Stadium.