The heat of last week forced the cancellations of many high school sporting events, but not the Greyhound’s Friday night football game against Ventura High School. Kickoff for the game was set for 7 p.m., but when it became clear that it would still be around 100 degrees, the schools agreed to move it back to 7:30 p.m.
As the sun descended, the temperature dropped. The thermometer read 93 degrees when the captains trotted out to centerfield hand-in-hand. Atascadero won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, sending their kickoff team out onto the field. The opening kickoff was the only one the home fans got to witness Friday night as the Hounds were shut out (49-0).
Injuries at key positions made an already tall task insurmountable for the Hounds. Starting quarterback Cade VanAllen was sidelined this week from an injury he suffered in the opening game against Foothill and starting offensive tackle Alex Cooper was forced to watch from the sidelines too as he is recovering from a concussion he received in practice leading up to the game. The Greyhounds also lost starting offensive guard Blake Rose to an apparent knee injury during the game, leaving the offense in disarray as they tried plugging players into spots.
The Hounds pulled up sophomore quarterback Tyler Chapman from the junior varsity this week, and after two consecutive three and outs, already trailing (14-0) he entered the game. Chapman is rumored to be the better runner out of the quarterbacks and with the offense struggling, Coach Cooper seemed to be looking for a spark. He entered the game with his back to his own goal line but there was no Cinderella ending to this story, the Greyhounds fumbled on the second play, giving the ball back to Ventura on the seven yard line.
Atascadero’s defense played much better than the score would suggest. Due to the offensive struggles they played many snaps with very little rest. The Hounds forced a fumble on Ventura’s opening drive and played tough all evening coming up one play short on several occasions. After the fumble, Atascadero went three and out, giving the ball back to the Cougars, only giving their defense a minute of rest. The defense held Ventura to a long third down, but they connected on a deep go route for a touchdown down the left sideline.
On the next drive the Hounds forced Ventura into a fourth down situation from around the Atascadero 30 yard line. With a field goal from that distance being unlikely at the high school level, Ventura went for it and completed a pass across the middle for first down and scored on a read option just a few moments later.
Senior Safety Zach Davis was in good form — he intercepted a pass late in the second quarter and had another one fall through his hands later. Atascadero trailed (35-0) at halftime but came out of the half with a sense of excitement. A good kickoff return by Kyle Spurgeon gave the team, and fans, life. With a victory seeming unlikely, the Greyhounds were looking to get on the board to avoid the shutout, but again fumbled, ending the drive and any momentum and again giving Ventura a short field.
While the score was not pretty, the Atascadero coaches weren’t screaming at the players. Head Coach Vic Cooper could be heard telling the offensive line that he wasn’t mad at the score, he was mad that at the missed assignment and that they weren’t playing as well as they could be.
Atascadero will head to Bakersfield this weekend to take on Stockdale High School. The Hounds played Stockdale at home last season and lost (24-13). Stockdale is (0-1) this season, dropping their first game to Ridgeview (28-14). They are led by their senior quarterback Jalen Smith, who connected on two long touchdown passes in their opener, and is also very elusive with the ball in his hands as a runner. It is unclear at this time if the Hounds will get back any of their injured players for this weeks game, but early indications suggest the Hounds will have to make due without their starting quarterback and offensive linemen.
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