Hall of Fame Class Honored in Pregame Ceremony
ATASCADERO — It was Senior Night, Homecoming and Hall of Fame night at Memorial Stadium on Friday as the Atascadero Greyhounds hosted their final home football game of the season against the Pioneer Valley Panthers and Atascadero did not disappoint by running away with the game in the second half and winning 24-10.
It was a special night for many in attendance. The crowd packed the bleachers to near-capacity for the first time this season but it was bigger for all of the seniors on the field who have persevered through two or three of the toughest years the Atascadero football program has gone through but never hung up their cleats.
“It is for sure big,” Atascadero senior captain and leader Seth Robasciotti said following the game. “Throughout the past four years and all the work we have put in, it is kind of our sanctuary you know, so it meant a lot, it was special.”
Memorial Stadium has been a home away from home for the Hounds over Robasciotti’s tenure. The senior has played a prominent role on the varsity team for three seasons and every varsity win he has during that time has come in front of his home fans. All three of the Hounds’ wins in 2017 came at home and after going 0-10 last season, the Hounds again have three wins, all at home.
Before the game, AHS honored 10 inductees into its athletic Hall of Fame — Ryan Bugg, Larry Forsman, Jeff Spiller, Stacy Babcock McAlister, Cameron Blount, Ryan McGaughey, Jim Stecher and Lou and Dina Coppo — for their outstanding athletic careers or their contributions to Atascadero athletics over the years. Once the field was cleared and pregame introductions were finished, the Hounds kicked the ball into the brisk night air and the game was under way.
As they have all year, the defense set the tone in this one early. The Panthers picked up only one first down on their opening drive and moved the ball a little better on their second drive until a hold forced them to throw. Pioneer’s quarterback Danny Martinez tried a deep pass down the visitor’s sidelines but instead found a leaping Wyatt Hasch who Moss’d the defensive back as if he were the intended target.
With a spark provided by their defense, the boys in orange and grey pounded the ball down the throats of the Panthers with a 1-2 punch of quarterback Zyon Richardson and running back Jadon Prince with a sprinkling of Robasciotti. First and second down belonged to the legs of Richardson and Prince but when the Hounds needed a third-down conversion they turned to Robasciotti in all different ways.
On Atascadero’s touchdown drive, the senior converted a third-and-two via a fullback dive and then a few plays later converted on a 10-yard pass over the middle from his traditional tight end position. Once the home team found themselves inside the five-yard line they put Robasciotti back in the backfield and he bulldozed a path for Prince to stroll into the endzone untouched.
The next eight minutes of the game belonged to the Panthers as they tied the game up on their ensuing possession and then took the lead on a 32-yard field goal. However, they left Atascadero 1:34 on the clock which was 14 seconds too many.
Richardson drove the Hounds down the field, connecting on a long pass to Robasciotti before finding Ajai Daner standing alone in the back of the endzone while avoiding Panther tacklers. Atascadero took the lead and all the momentum in the half held Pioneer Valley scoreless.
“It was just the execution, we have been working on it for the past couple weeks,” Rirchardson said. “We realized that losing is only going to get us better because we learn from our mistakes. Once we lost to SLO, that homecoming game, we had to get it back and win it for our crowd. This is the last game here for many of the seniors, me included, and this is the last game we will play in front of this crowd so we had to make it count.”
Prince opened the second half scoring on a 34-yard touchdown scamper on their first drive of the half which stretched the lead to 21-10, ultimately putting the game out of reach as the Hounds earned their first league win in two years.
“Just being able to see that your hard work eventually pays off,” AHS coach Vic Cooper said of what he is proudest of from the win on senior night. “It’s not always pretty but if you persevere in life good things happen. They have had some adversity the whole year, they had some adversity over their four years and it’s good to send them out with a victory here.”
Now at 3-5 on the season, the Hounds will travel to Nipomo on Friday to take on the 3-5 Titans in their new stadium as they look to move to 2-1 in PAC-4 play before the rivalry game against the Bearcats to close out the season. Head coach Tony Dodge and the Titans lost their starting quarterback early in the season and went on a four-game skid before beating Pioneer Valley two weeks ago.
“I am really excited,” Robasciotti said. “They are really hard-nosed just like us so it will be interesting. It’ll be fun.”