ATASCADERO — While many high school kids might spend their Friday nights trying to find a way to sneak out of the house, this past Friday night the Greyhound football players had a legitimate excuse as it was the official start of football with Atascadero’s annual midnight practice.
They say the definition of insanity is trying to do the same the thing over and over again and expecting a different result and after only three wins in two years the Hounds have shaken up their football program just a bit in an attempt to inject it with new life for the upcoming year. Atascadero has made two types of changes this offseason, culture changes and coaching changes and both have the players on the team full of excitement.
The biggest news out of the Atascadero training camp is the return of coach Dan Loney who is a bit of an Orange and Grey legend. After an illustrious career with the San Jose Sabercats in the Arena Football League, Loney began coaching high school football at his alma mater before eventually making stops at Templeton and Paso Robles.
“It is great to have him back and I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been trying to get him back since the day he left,” head coach Vic Cooper said at practice on Tuesday. “It took a while but he is finally here and one of our offseason goals was to get a little younger in the coaching staff.”
Not only is Loney back in the fold but this year he has been given the keys to cars and will be calling the plays as he hopes to turn Atascadero’s offense from a powerful albeit laboring 1993 Ford Bronco into more of a modern 2019 Hummer that contains all the same power but also has a little sizzle.
“Danny is going to be calling the plays, so I think you will see something similar to what Atascadero football has always been in the past but it will be disguised a little bit,” Cooper said. “You are going to see a little less I-back, two tight end downhill stuff but you are still going to see the similar commitment to the running game with the addition of some RPO stuff.”
In years past at previous programs, Loney has embraced a more spread out offense that operates more out of the gun and incorporates a fair amount of run-pass option plays as well as a desire to air it out when dictated by the defense.
“I am extremely excited and a little nervous,” Loney said of his opportunity. “It’s a big weight on my shoulders right now, I don’t want to disappoint the tradition that we've had here. I want to keep the tradition alive and add some stuff I have done in the past.”
While the offense is in the process of changing, the Hounds also made some adjustments to their summer workout program and have moved away from the heavy Olympic lifts toward more plyometric and football-centric drills and with it has come a different mentality.
“Over the summer I put in a lot of work, you know, come early and stay late. Seth [Robasciotti] and I have especially been trying to get the juniors to come out and work hard with us,” said Forrest Powell, who will be a huge part of the Hounds offense and defense this year. “We knew we needed a different mentality coming into camp than last year based on how unsuccessful our season was last year so we are trying to do everything mentality wise different from last year.”
Atascadero’s strength this year looks to be in the trenches where they have several returning starters including Powell and Seth Robasciotti who will work in tandem to control and neutralize the opposing team’s front seven. Robasciotti has started the last two years on varsity and now enters his senior season as one of the premier players in the County. It is clear that the 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pounder has put in the work in the offseason (he also ran track in the spring) and is coming into this season in the best shape he has been in during his time in the orange and grey and is ready to make an impact. The Hounds big man will play tight end on offense and defensive end on defense and as an added bonus, might long snap as well.
“I am just excited to show the work we put in and the changes we made,” Robasciotti said. “I am super excited to come in and work with coach Loney and the new offense we are putting in just to prove ourselves.”
Atascadero will host the Templeton Eagles next Friday for a scrimmage, kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.