Get to know your Greyhounds! The Atascadero News spent some time out at Greyhounds training camp this week and interviewed a couple players and Head Coach Vic Cooper. The Hounds will kick off their season on Friday, August 25 at 7:00PM at home against Foothill High School (Santa Ana). The Greyhounds finished last season (5-5) and have been working throughout the offseason to improve and make a run at the league title this year. Instead of building our own story about the team, we figured we would let them tell you in their own words. Our sports reporter Connor Allen was able to sit down with the man running the show for the Greyhounds, Coach Cooper.
Head Football Coach Vic Cooper
AN: Well first off, how are you doing coach?
VC: Im doing well, Connor, how about you.
AN: Im great, Do you mind if I ask you a couple questions? How was the midnight practice?
VC: It was fun, the midnight practice is a real cool thing. I didn't realize how exciting it was going to be, but it has kind of turned into a little bit of an event. On top of it being fun and exciting, we got some work done so that was the good thing. There was alumni, we probably had 20 or 30 former football players out there, you know moms, grandmas, sisters, the cheerleaders came out, it was fun.
AN: What are the teams strengths coming into this year?
VC: I think we have really good leadership this year. The kids haven't had the success that Atascadero is used to the last couple years at the lower levels, so they have really ramped it up. I think they have really realized that you can't keep doing things the same way and expect things to change. So I think our leadership is good, and I think our line, our offensive and defensive line depth is our next big positive.
Hunter Walden is a captain for the Greyhounds this year and is a starting linebacker. As a junior, Walden played in all ten games and recorded 54 tackles, 35 of which were solo, according to Maxpreps. We at the Atascadero News were able to catch up with the man patrolling the middle and asked him about the upcoming season:
AN: Hey Hunter, so you play linebacker for the Hounds and this is your senior year, is that right?
AN: Awesome, Tell me a little bit about the midnight practice?
HW: I had no idea what it was until last year, I believe they started it in 2013 and it's like a really hyped up first day of practice. It’s very different, I don’t believe any other schools around here do it, i've never heard of it before other than at this school. We get here and start practice at 12:01 AM on the first legal day we can have pads on it's just really hyped up like I said. We go and start off with some agilities like a normal practice, and then we go through our pregame stuff. We go through, you know, the Atascadero spell out big and loud, shaking the stadium. It was loud. There were even some old team members and coaches from the JV and Freshman teams, there were cheerleaders and of course friends and family. I loved it
AN: Awesome, can you tell me a little about your football experience through your first three years at Atascadero High School and what it's like playing for the Greyhounds?
HW: My freshman year was my first year of football, It was definitely a different experience, it was not what I was expecting but a lot of fun. These guys that I have been playing with are brothers to me, they’re amazing and I love them so much and we progressed so much it's been awesome. Coming up since Freshman year, we hadn’t done the greatest, we were 2-8. Up to JV [junior varsity], a big jump, a lot more skill involved and a lot more maturity we ended up 4-6 I believe. Then last year coming up with the guys before us was an awesome experience, varsity is a whole different level and you know all the guys stepped up. I’m really looking forward to this year.
AN: So you have always played linebacker? What makes you love linebacker so much?
HW: Linebacker, overall, I think they are most important on defense. Everyone has just as important of a job but linebackers really get the big hits. The middle linebacker is really the quarterback of the defense. Linebackers, they really make the big plays and they get a lot of recognition, and they put in a lot of work.
AN: So how has this offseason gone? Is there something that you guys have been focusing on more this year than maybe last year?
HW: Last year, I think we had a little confidence issue. My team hadn’t been the greatest in the past. This year I have really been stepping up as a leader and helping the guys get more confident. You know, get ready for those big games like Paso and Arroyo Grande coming up, and we really look forward to it, we’ve been working hard and our work ethic has really improved.
AN: So I was talking to Zack Davis earlier and he also mentioned Paso and A.G., so are those the two that you really want this year?
HW: YES. That is my biggest dream to end my senior year winning those games.
AN: So why A.G.?
HW: A.G. is… first of all, I personally have never beaten them or Paso in anything, track or football. They are both huge rivals to us, and they are very good teams, very, very good teams. They are both bigger schools than us, but we have always done well against them. They aren't to feisty or mean, they are just a good loyal team and it ends up being a good game either way.
Zack Davis is a senior captain for the Greyhounds and will be playing safety and running back this season. As a junior, in the seven games he played for the Hounds, Davis racked up 48 tackles. Davis averaged 6.9 tackles per game, according to Maxpreps, which was the best on the team for any junior. We were able to catch up with Davis at training camp and ask him how his offseason has gone:
AN: Well first off, I’m Connor. Nice to meet you
ZD: Thanks, nice to meet you.
AN: Are you a senior this year?
ZD: Yes sir
AN: Cool, so tell me a little bit about Atascadero football and how you have been doing these last couple of years coming up the ranks?
ZD: We’ve had a rough start, I mean, we’re going to push through it. Last year we did alright. Starting as a junior really made a big impact on me. It really made me want to get better and push the team. Now as a senior it's really crazy how much work you have to put into it to get all these other juniors that haven’t had the greatest season to get up to par with us.
AN: Awesome, so what positions are you playing this year?
ZD: Free safety and running back
AN: So you’re starting a free safety right, that's your spot?
ZD: Yes sir
AN: And you like defense better?
AN: Tell me what you like about defense?
ZD: I just love tackling, it’s way better than running the ball
AN: So is there anything during this offseason that is different from years past?
ZD: We have been working way harder than we ever have just to get better. We are trying to change things because like I said we havent had the best four years but this year is going to be different. We are going to come out way harder, way faster, and way bigger and we are going to turn it around.
AN: Love it. Alright other than Paso do you have anyone circled on the schedule for this year?
ZD: Arroyo Grande an Paso, thats bout it.