PASO ROBLES — The Atascadero Greyhounds are the only thing that stands between the Paso Robles Bearcats and their season-long goal of being the undefeated PAC 5 league champions. The Paso versus Atascadero game is the stuff of lore, it’s one of those rivalry games where you throw the records out the window because they don't matter. It’s one of those games that will cause those who have played in the game brain’s to flood with nostalgia like a property below sea level 30 years after you played in at as you sit around a campfire reminiscing with old high school buddies. Legacies are formed, both good and bad, in a game of this magnitude. This is Michigan vs Ohio State or the Green Bay Packers vs the Chicago Bears of high school games.
The rivalry started 97 years ago in 1920. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Bearcats won 119-0. In fact, the Greyhounds didn't get their first win in the series until 1935. It has been a series of runs, each team has had its turn in winning eight consecutive years with Paso doing it most recently from 98’-05’ and the Hounds doing so in 79’ - 86’. The two teams once met in a legendary CIF Final where the Greyhounds emerged victories with a 21-12 victory after losing to the Bearcats in the final game of the regular season that year 46-20. In the last ten season the series is tied at five, Atascadero won back to back years in 07’ a 08’, then the Bearcats won four consecutive times from 09’-12’. Atascadero then won three straight before losing last year 46-25.
Friday night at 7 p.m., War Memorial Stadium will be packed with screaming fans covered in either orange or crimson as the two teams will play each other for the 90th time. The Bearcats defense will look to shut down the Atascadero running game much like they did to Arroyo Grande in their first league game. If Paso can effectively shut down the run they should cruise to another victory and a PAC 5 league title.
Last Friday night the Bearcats played at home for the first time since Sept. 15 and welcomed in the Righetti Warriors for their homecoming game. The Bearcats won the game 23-14. It was a game of huge momentum swings. On their second possession, the Warriors lined up their offense like they were going for it on fourth down, but instead had their quarterback punt the ball. Because the Paso defense was expecting the Warriors to call a play, no one was back deep to receive and the ball was downed inside the Bearcat 10-yard line. Paso was able to advance the ball out of the shadow of their own end zone but the drive stalled and they had to punt. Cade England struck a beautiful spiraling punt that floated higher than the lights in the stadium and came plummeting back down to earth. The Righetti punt returner called for a fair catch but dropped the ball and the Bearcats recovered. With all the momentum on their side, Paso drew up a long pass on their very first play. Barnhart dropped back and fired a pass down the home sidelines to Kaden Gallant who looked as if he caught the ball and fell into the end zone for a touchdown. However, there was a scrum for the ball as he went down and a Righetti defender emerged with the ball and ran it out to the six-yard line. The officials ruled that Gallant fumbled the ball into the end zone. Two plays later, Righetti running back Dylan White burst through a hole on the right side of the line and took it 97 yards to the house which resulted in a 14 point swing for the Bearcats.
Paso answered on the next drive when England checked in at fullback and punched it in from four yards out. The Warrior defense could not stop the Bearcat offense when it was clicking — the only thing that stopped Paso was themselves.
After a Barnhart pass fell harmlessly into the end zone on a
At one point the Warriors got within three points of the lead, but on the next drive for the Bearcats Barnhart hooked up with Marshall Weisner for a 28-yard touchdown making it a two-score game.
Defensively the Bearcats played another solid game, excluding the 97-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter, Paso Robles only gave up 92 yards rushing on 30 carries. Isaiah Espinoza was around the ball all night registering seven tackles and a sack, Mark Martinez also finished with seven tackles and Austin Gutierrez added two sacks.