ATASCADERO — All the schools from as far north as Paso Robles to as far south as Santa Ynez sent a collection of their best players to Atascadero High School on Saturday night for the eighth annual FCA All-Star Football Classic.
The game featured 21 players from the three North County schools: seven from Paso — Julian Madrigal, Cole Roberts, James Doran, Orlando Quintana, Cade England, Daede Murphy, Isiah Espinoza and Scott Pedretti; eight from Templeton — Austin Domonigos, Jesse McClain, Isaiah Harold, Reed Hayes, Taylor Miller, Chase Howland, Zach Hewitson and Nick Berna; and five from Atascadero — Blake Rose, Kamren Brown, Kobe Cross, Alex Cooper and Doug Dengate.
Each team was given one week of practice in preparation for the game and each school had at least one coach on the roster. The All-Star game only uses high school seniors which presented a bit of problem for the SLO County team this year. None of the North County schools graduated a starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara team had not one great quarterback, but two. St. Joseph’s Dino Maldonado, who finished the season with a 69.3 percent completion percentage to go along with 33 touchdowns, and Santa Maria’s Blake Truhitt, who accounted for 4374 yards by himself this season, passing for more than 2,000 through the air and running for 2,000 on the ground.
The game pretty accurately depicted the contrast between South County and North County football. Santa Barbara came out in the shotgun with four wide receivers and threw the ball on nearly every play. Their speed advantage was obvious as they connected on two deep touchdowns in the first half, the first one going to Shermer Savage of Lompoc and the second to Gabe Pendergast of Santa Ynez.
The first quarter and a half of the game were all Santa Barbara. In fact, San Luis Obispo County did not record a first down in the first half. SLO County rotated Paso’s Murphy, who played as a running back and wide receiver for the Bearcats this year, taking a few quarterback snaps in their last game and Templeton’s Hewitson who is listed as a running back on Templeton’s roster.
The game began to turn at the end of the first half when things began to get chippy. St. Joseph's Tim Miller (a recent Cal Poly commit) was ejected before halftime for taking a cheap, late shot at a San Luis Obispo player on a punt.
SLO country trailed 20-0 at halftime and came out determined to prove they could score. Just a few plays into their first drive Paso Bearcat Julian Madrigal bounced off two would-be tacklers, spun out of a third and turned on the jets for a 66-yard touchdown.
A few drives late, SLO county added another touchdown, this time via a Templeton to Templeton connection as Hewitson hit Jesse McClain, who just barely tapped his toes in the back of the end zone.
SLO County had a real shot at the end of the game. They had two possession inside the SB 30-yard-line, but a missed field goal and an interception led to zero points. SB County added one more touchdown before the game was called after sources say another SB player was about to be ejected as both teams started getting firey.