(Photos contributed by Rick Evans)
ATASCADERO — The Coyotes of Madera High School traveled to Memorial Stadium Friday for their 7:30 p.m. matchup with Atascadero. It was a tense game for all in attendance and the Greyhounds were in it until the very end but the advantage in situational football went to the Coyotes and so did the victory.
Atascadero received the opening kickoff, which was booted out of bounds by the Madera kicker. This happened all night, routinely setting up the Greyhounds with fantastic field positions. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Chapman strolled out with the starting offense for the first series Friday but he and Junior Cade Sokolowski split the reps as the Greyhound signal caller all night, depending on what Head Coach Vic Cooper wanted.
Like most of the games this season, the Greyhounds defense kept the team in the game, making crucial plays at key moments. After the offense went three-and-out on their opening drive, the Atascadero defense stopped the Coyotes on a fourth down attempt, giving the ball back to their offense with momentum. Defensive end Kamren Brown wreaked havoc on the Coyotes offense line all night and set the tone from the first drive when he recorded a tackle for a loss (TFL) in their first possession.
Madera plays an “air it out” offense, operating almost entirely out of the shotgun with receivers spread to both sides. After the Greyhounds punted the ball back to Madera after their second possession the Coyotes put together a long drive and scored the first points of the night on a play-action slant pattern from the 11 yard line on third and five.
The Greyhounds offense responded immediately with a scoring drive of their own with Sokolowski at the helm. The drive got started off with a long run by fullback Kobe Cross that put the Greyhounds on the Madera side of the 50-yard-line. Sokolowski then tossed a bubble screen out to safety/running back Zach Davis and let him do the rest, taking the ball down the visitors sideline and into the redzone. Senior running back Arik Machado punched it in from six yards out just a few plays later, tieing up the score at 7 apiece.
The game really turned on the next three possessions. Madera mounted another long scoring drive — now in the later stage of the second quarter — that was capped off by a perfect throw from the Coyote quarterback who whizzed right past the outstretched arms of the Atascadero defender, hitting his intended target right on the shoulder pad for the 24-yard touchdown. Scott Morgan blocked the point-after-touchdown bringing the score to 7-13.
After the score, Chapman came out as the quarterback for the Hounds as they lined up in the pistol. Chapman faked the fly sweep and handed the ball to Machado on first down for a nice gain right up the middle. Kross also registered a nice run, then Chapman connected with wide receiver Andrew Mosqueda on a play-action roll out. It seemed the Greyhounds were going to score before the half and go into the break down by only six. However, the drive stalled out at the 21-yard line when they went for it on fourth and six and didn't convert.
Madera took over on down with 79 yards to go and only 1:50 seconds left on the clock. Madera completed their first play over the middle for a 17-yard gain, giving them enough momentum to go for the score before the half. Morgan and Brown each almost picked off a pass during this drive but couldn't come down with it. After a couple of penalties backed up the Coyotes they faced second and nearly 40 and it seemed that the half was over. Madera converted after completing consecutive passes across the middle and then hit a deep touchdown with only seven seconds left on the clock. The touchdown deflated the stadium of all its energy as the Greyhounds went from just a couple yards away from having a lead at the half to trailing by two scores.
Atascadero was never able to make up the ground in the second half. Interceptions by Brown and Davis in the third quarter coupled with a little trickery from coach Cooper made the game close but the Madera offense pulled away in the fourth quarter, beating the Hounds 14-34.
Atascadero plays at home again this Friday as former division foe Pioneer Valley comes to town. Pioneer Valley is 3-1 on the season but have played much smaller schools than Atascadero in the preseason, picking up wins over both Santa Maria High School and Nipomo. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and it looks to be another perfect fall evening for football in the Central Coast.
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