ATASCADERO— The last weekend in August means only one thing in the Central Coast of California: high school football is back. Memorial Stadium has undergone some renovations this offseason and the old, rickety, warped wooden boards of the home side can no longer tell their legends of the early 90s and have been replaced with brand new vibrant, bright orange panels; an almost perfect metaphor for the Greyhounds transition to this season who saw many of their impact players from a year ago graduate only to have their spots filled by someone much younger.
The stands were pulsating as everyone cheered, awaiting the kick off and the beginning of the fall sports season.
Atascadero’s week zero game could not have been more entertaining. The game ended as an overtime thriller with the Greyhounds emerging victorious. The rust from the offseason was obvious for both teams, with mental and physical mistakes showing up at important times in the game. The Greyhounds defense looked stout and kept the Hounds in the game most of the evening, forcing multiple three-and-outs. Chance Henry and Scott Morgan met one of the Foothill running backs in the hole, late in the second quarter and forced an important fumble that was scooped up Zach Davis. At the end of the third quarter, The Hounds defense showed their true grit and desire to win when they held the Knights to a goal line stand. Both offenses struggled in the second half, and it looked as if the defense knew that a goal line stand would make the difference.
Foothill ran four straight plays inside the Greyhounds’ 10 yard line before turning it over on downs. After the stand, the crowd and sidelines were in a frenzy, the chants of “defense” echoed throughout the school and surrounds hills. However the celebration was brief as Atascadero fumbled on their very first play, giving the ball back to the Foothill, this time on the six yard line. The defense held Foothill to another fourth down, but after seven consecutive plays for no gain, Foothill scored on a run to the right side, tying the game at 21 apiece. Linebacker Matthew Perry finished the game with three tackles for loss (TFL) to go with 10 tackles, while Sammy DeRose finished with four TFL and three quarterback pressures.
When the game hit triple zeros, each team had to make a decision on if they wanted to play overtime, or end the game in a tie. “The captains went out and met, and we decided on overtime.” Atascadero captain Hunter Walden said.
The decision was simple, there can only be one winner. The Greyhounds won the coin toss and elected to play defense first. Overtime rules in high school are a lot like overtime rules in college. Each team gets an opportunity from the 25 yard line to score, and they keep going until someone is crowned as champion.
The Hounds defense took the field with a renewed sense of life. They held the Foothill offense to almost no gain on their three plays in overtime. On fourth down Foothill brought out their kicker, and as the kick went up a collective inhale could be heard from the stands as they awaited the result. Once the referee began nodding his head from side to side, the team knew this game was over. On only the second play of overtime, Machado took the hand off and pressed the hole on the right side of the line before cutting back behind his center, once he saw the hole open up, he turned on the jets, breaking two tackles on his way to the end zone.
“Yeah, I was hoping we would punch it in there,” Atascadero fullback Kobe Cross said. “Arik is a great running back and we blocked it very well for him and we did really good.”
Machado ended the game with 118 yards rushing, two touchdowns, and one full team dog pile that came seconds after crossing the goal line.
“It was pretty good, I stayed pretty calm on the sidelines,” Head Coach Vic Cooper said after the game, “but I don't think anyone was calm there at the end.”
“Im proud of the kids,” he continued. “They stayed tough at the end and made the plays when they needed to.”
The Greyhounds are the only North County team that will be at home this Friday as they welcome in Ventura High School who is also (1-0) after pulverizing Thousand Oaks (42-14) last week. Athletic Director Sam DeRose put out a message on Facebook letting the fans know that this week's game will also begin at 7 p.m.
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