Paso Robles leads all-time series 58-31-3

PASO ROBLES — Friday night at War Memorial Stadium was the place to be in the North County as the football rivalry battle between Atascadero and Paso Robles took place. It was the Bearcats final game of the season and the players knew it and played like it as crimson flashed across the field all night in dominating fashion defeating the Greyhounds 48-7 and sending their seniors out on a high note. 

“It feels good,” PRHS senior running back Gerald Norte said following the game. “We wanted to go out with a bang one last time.”

Paso Robles senior running back Gerald Norte runs through a pack of Greyhounds

Norte put an exclamation point on the end of his season by finding the end zone four times in the first half en route to a 22 carry 186-yard dominating performance by the senior who battled through injuries all year long. 

“He is a leader, he is a tough kid, obviously,” Paso Robles head coach JR Reynolds said of Norte. “When he went down in Sanger I didn’t think we were going to have him the rest of the year but tonight obviously he ran with that patented Gerald Norte power and I am really proud of the way he bounced back for us.”

It was clear from the beginning that Reynolds and Bearcats were playing to win Friday night when they ran a fake punt to Seth Maldonado on the opening drive, even if it came up just inches short. Two plays later Bearcat senior Cris Magalona stripped the ball from the Greyhounds’ ball carrier and Mike Hollinger fell on it setting up Paso Robles 30 yards from the end zone. 

Paso Robles’ Levi Marshall and Atascadero’s Jadon Prince layout for a pass Friday night

After a few short runs, Norte punched it in from 13-yards out and the home team was up 7-0. The Hounds got their biggest spark of the night on the ensuing kickoff when their kick returner Zyon Richardson bolted down the visitor’s sideline for 90 yards and was taken down inside the Bearcats 10. The Hounds scored a few plays later to tie the game at 7 but it was the last points they would put on the board as the PRHS defense was dominant all night. 

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Norte scored for the Bearcats on the next two drives and Magalona forced another turnover, this time intercepting Atascadero’s Westly Cooper, which led to Norte’s fourth touchdown run of the first half and a commanding 27-7 lead at the break. 

Paso Robles Taylor Bonham looks for open space at War Memorial on Friday

“The kids came in with an intent tonight to get the memory they wanted,” Reynolds said. “You know we aren’t going to the playoffs, so this is it for us. Atascadero is going to the playoffs next week so this was our playoff game tonight. I was proud of our guys, proud of the effort, the seniors played a great game tonight and it was fun to watch them get their memory and their send-off that they should get.”

The Bearcats defense held the Greyhounds to under 90 total yards on the evening and forced three turnovers and the offense added three more scores, all to seniors, in the second half as Bennie Johnson ran for two and Maldonado reeled in a 26-yarder from Braden Waterman in the back of the end zone. 

Friday night was the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of the rivalry, though to be clear it is not the 100th meeting, the two teams did not play during World War II. Officially it was the 92nd meeting of the two rivals in a series that might be more lopsided than some assume with Paso Robles leading 58-31-3.

The Bearcats’ win on Friday wasn’t quite as impressive as their first victory over the Hounds, which ended 119-0, but it was Paso Robles’ widest margin of victory in the game since 1998 when a Bill Stansbury coached team won 52-6.