It's right up there with Rudolph, mistletoe and decking the halls: Hannah Donaghe getting injured.
For the third season in a row, the standout senior Atascadero High girls basketball player will be missing December games because of an on-court injury.
In 2004-05, knee tendonitis sidlined her for 12 games. Last year, an ankle sprain kept her out for eight. And after banging hips with an opposing player in Friday's 52-40 win over defending league champion Righetti, Donaghe's been diagnosed with a knee strain that's expected to keep her out of somewhere between three and six games.
It's jokeworthy only because the injuries aren't extremely serious. This blog would have a decidedly more somber tone if the Stanford-bound Donaghe's career was in jeopardy.
Greyhounds coach Paul Hill was not joking when he was ejected after an altercation with Righetti coach Harold Oliviera as Donaghe lay writhing in pain in the third quarter.
Hill missed the fourth quarter and sat out Wednesday's 46-41 loss to West Bakersfield in accordance with CIF regulations.
As he returns to the bench today, he has to be concerned about the impact Donaghe's void will have on a team hoping to win its first league title in nine years.
Atascadero (9-2) is 2-0 in PAC 7 play after beating Righetti, the preseason favorite to win after returning Cal Poly signee Kristina Santiago, and Arroyo Grande, last year's second place team in the PAC 5.
But Donaghe, the leading scorer on the Central Coast with 24.2 points per game, is expected to miss one league game and might not be her usual self immediately when she returns.
By the end of the season, Donaghe could end up with a slew of Most Valuable awards and All-this-and-that honors. But the way her teammates respond while she mends up could make the Greyhounds as a title team — or break them.
Their happy New Year depends on it.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
It's right up there with Rudolph, mistletoe and decking the halls: Hannah Donaghe getting injured.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 9:00 PM
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Jon Huss doesn't have much use for the details. At least not the ones I kept asking about.
The 25-year Arroyo Grande football coach retired this week, and that's what I remember most about this past season.
What was his career record? Who was the Arroyo Grande single-game rushing record-holder and how many yards did he have? When was the last time the Eagles failed to make the playoffs?
All these questions came up somtime during the five months I've known him. Each time, Huss didn't know the answers — and each time, it didn't seem to bother him.
I kind of needed to know these things because the phrase: "Arroyo Grande hasn't made the playoffs since sometime circa the height of Hammer Time." just isn't going to cut it with the boss.
We actually do have to be 100 percent accurate in our figures.
But even though it meant a little more work on my part, it didn't bother me when Huss didn't have the answers.
The longest conversation I think we ever had was after a football practice leading up to the reguar season finale with rival San Luis Obispo when a the topic about playoff conquests of the past finished off with what a bunch of players was doing these days.
None of them were Jamie Martin. The NFL quarterback would be the easy one to keep track of. But the Average Joes who went on to be ranchers, coaches, dads.
He hadn't forgotten those details.
But since I was only around for one of the 25 years, mine can't be the best perspective. What are your favorite Huss moments?
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:15 PM
Friday, December 15, 2006
It wasn't long after Mission Prep's impressive 69-64 boys basketball win over perennial power Crenshaw in the Royals' eighth annual version of their Christmas tournament that I realized, I've never witnessed a Mission Prep loss.
That's right. I was at Cowitz Court for two rounds of CIF-Central Section playoffs at the end of last season, and I also covered the first two rounds of the Southern California regional playoffs in San Luis Obispo. All four were Royals victories. It got eerie when Mission Prep came back from being down double-digits against a state power in my presence Friday.
But whether I'm the lucky charm, or if the Royals just have a good home-court advantage, the most important thing to remember is that it was college beat reporter Brian Milne who covered Mission Prep's loss in the Southern California regional final in Fullerton last March.
I heard Milne broke a mirror that day. Direct all complaints to him here
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 10:22 PM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tribune photo by Jayson Mellom.
I've been laying low the past couple of weeks (notice the drop-off in blog posts?). But BWS — Bloggin' with Scroggin — is back for the winter season. Expect update frequencies to spike like the monster waves hitting the Central Coast right now.
Today's 15-foot westerly swell is my early take on the boys basketball picture.
While on a break from the blog, I was able to see almost every San Luis Obispo County boys team play and I've handicapped a handful of them — a la our Tribune's Top 10 high school football media poll.
Except since it's my blog, I'm the only medium that voted. But enough about me, on to the kids and the rankings.
1. Nipomo (5-1) - Led by smooth scorer Dominique Saunders (28 points per game), the veteran Titans made an early-season statement by winning Morro Bay's Ted C. Harding Invitational Tournament, beating rival Arroyo Grande for the first time in school history in the process.
2. Mission Prep (5-0) - With senior center Luis Santiago back (12 ppg), the Royals might have the best mix of talent and experience, but behind sticky-fingered junior point guard Andrew Richardson (3 steals per game), there isn't much ball-handling depth.
3. Arroyo Grande (4-2) - Point guard Lyle Parsons has poise to spare, and the Eagles have as much, if not more, height across the board than any other local team. Freshman Tanner Hinek (6 feet, 5 inches) has been a great addition spelling 6-7 center James Tringham.
4. Atascadero (4-2) - Danny Thomas (23.2 ppg) and Andrew McMillian (17.8 ppg) are combining to score 41 points per game. If any of the three others hovering between 6 and 7 step up during a given game, the Greyhounds can beat anybody in the county.
5. San Luis Obispo (5-4) - Nathan Breneman (15.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has emerged as one of the county's premier big men, and second-leading scorer Conner Reese (8.9 ppg) is in the top three on the team in every major statistical category aside from blocks.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 5:02 PM
Friday, November 24, 2006
When both remaining San Luis Obispo County schools got eliminated from the CIF-Southern Section playoffs Friday, it guaranteed that none of the nine 11-man football teams within The Tribune's coverage area — and, heck, none on the Central Coast — would get further than the second round.
It's been five years since a county team has won a section title, something there was no shortage of in the 1990s, and you can count on one hand how many have been past the second round in the 2000s. It's a topic we breached on opening night, wondering if the idea of a section championship has become antiquated.
I put that question to local coaches before the season, and most of them were confident that, although against some heavy odds, Central Coast teams can still compete in the playoffs.
What do you think? They say pink is the new black. Is the second round the new finals for county teams? Is that good enough? It's certainly no slight against the local schools. Teams like Oaks Christian and Canyon Country are gunning for the first state title games. They'd beat 95 percent of the teams in the country.
Will SLO County get back in the championship mix? What will it take? Or does it even need to?
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:35 PM
Friday, November 17, 2006
The end-of-the-season cry.
I saw it once again Friday night. Atascadero fell in the first round of the playoffs and on came the sprinklers.
Now, I'm not pointing this out to belittle the Greyhounds. I did it, too, back in the day. You didn't even want to see the red rings around my eyes after my last high school basketball game - and we weren't even that good (Sorry coach Sharp).
Who didn't cry after their final intersholastic sporting event? They're the weird ones.
But in the midst of that Atascadero agony, it hit me.
Consider this: With so many high school football playoff games going on this Friday, how many hundreds of kids bawled together in the throes of defeat in California alone? Or is it thousands?
Nationwide, we're certainly talking about a lot of losses, a lot of kids and a lot of salt. This past Friday might mark the biggest mass cry of any day this year.
And I'm all for it.
High school boys aren't known for sharing feelings or hugging or making themselves vulnerable. This is their one day a year where they can do it in front of thousands of people. And it's cool.
It wasn't fun to see. And an early exit wasn't the way the Greyhounds were hoping to finish off their best season in close to a decade.
But in a few years, all people will remember is that Atascadero went 9-2, won the PAC 7 title, blew out its two biggest rivals and made it to the playoffs.
The Greyhounds have far better things to cry about than most.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:29 PM
Saturday, November 11, 2006
In a conversation with Mission Prep football coach Joe Silveira this week, the topic quickly turned to Tribune County Football Player of the Year and who the best nominees would be.
"That's who I'd go with," Silveira said after saying who he'd go with.
Not that the conversation with Joe has much to do with this blog, but it sparked an idea. People like giving input on things like Player of the Year debates and All-County teams.
Think about it. What if I asked blog readers to give out thoughts on who should be regarded as All-County performers? Could you resist from clicking that "add comments" link?
I'm guessing maybe.
But if you choose to leave some nominees, I'll read every one. When the sports department gets together in the next few weeks, we'll take everything into account.
So have at it. Who should be the All-County first-team quarterback, left tackle and safety? Or second-team punter? (Honestly, that's the toughest one to pick.)
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 12:24 AM
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Wondering who's got the best chance to make the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs but wary of the impending Excedrin headache that goes along with dissecting the standings?
No worries. Your friendly neighborhood preps writer has done it all for you.
I spent more than a few minutes talking with athletic directors and football coaches Wednesday, trying to get a handle on the playoff scenarios.
Three teams from the PAC 7 are going and four from the Los Padres League. We won't know them all until Friday. But here's a quick guide to help you figure it out before you head to games this week.
Who's in: No matter what happens, Atascadero and San Luis Obispo have guaranteed spots in the playoffs in the PAC 7. In the LPL, Morro Bay, St. Joseph and Pioneer Valley are in. It's also official, Atascadero and St. Joseph have clinched league titles and No. 1 seeds (though San Luis Obispo can get a share of the PAC 7 crown if Paso Robles upsets Atascadero).
The final spot in the PAC 7 will go to Arroyo Grande as long as the Eagles beat San Luis Obispo on Friday. If Arroyo Grande loses and Paso Robles wins, the Bearcats will get the berth. If both teams lose, there will be a three-way tie between Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Righetti, and according to Lucia Mar athletic director Dwight MacDonald, Paso Robles would be in based on a low number draw at the beginning of the season.
Templeton will get an LPL spot with a win over Santa Maria, but the berth could go to Templeton even if it loses to Santa Maria today. In order for Nipomo to get in, the Titans need a Templeton loss and must beat St. Joseph, who's 6-0 in LPL play. Nipomo can also get in with a loss if Templeton falls and Morro Bay loses at Santa Ynez.
There. Hopefully, reading that was quick and painless. I'm going to go stick my head in the freezer.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:10 PM
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Tribune photo by Aaron Lambert
Tuesday’s pivotal girls volleyball matchup between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo had he feel of something like a major college basketball game.
Two rowdy student sections were going head-to-head for dominance on and off the court. Arroyo Grande did its “Get out the game” chant. Nipomo countered with a rendition of “Mighty, mighty Titans.”
Each tried to drown out the other while employing the dirtiest looks this side of the Measure J debate.
After the game, one adult Eagles supporter actually went up to a student fan who helped lead the cheers and said, “You guys did it.”
I’d argue that the girls actually did most of “it” in Arroyo Grande’s 3-0 win, but it was a blast watching the dueling constituencies.
And as an added bonus, the Nipomo kids, who said they weren’t allowed to dress up during school, came decked out in some great Halloween costumes.
Notables were a walking refrigerator box painted like Spongebob Squarepants, a circa 1970s male tennis player complete with short shorts and a young man with a lucha libre mask. I think he was supposed to be Hijo del Santo, but I’m not sure.
But the Bloggin’ with Scroggin award for best costume went to Nipomo’s Mikie Michel.
Followed by four body-painted shirtless guys I assumed to be the Eastside Boys, Michel strutted into the gym moments before game time as rapper Lil Jon.
From the sideways cap and sunglasses to the trademark dreadlocks and golden chalice, Michel (the guy with the orange hat up there) had Lil Jon down. Kudos to Michel. Hopefully, he can wear the thing more than once.
Also, if it seems like I’m leaving out the Arroyo Grande costumers, it’s because they always dress “creatively” for volleyball matches. And other than a few girls with painted on mustaches, it was hard to tell if any of their outfits were specifically for Halloween.
If this was the precursor for what gyms will be like this winter, bring on basketball season.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:34 PM
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Central Coast athletes should be an example for sports figures worldwide.
Friday night was the second time in a couple weeks that a local football player uttered something akin to the phrase, "I have to admit..." followed by an embarrassing actuality that somewhat took the gloss off a pretty big accomplishment.
First it was Atascadero running back Michael Reynoso, who had to admit he threw up after making a 95-yard touchdown run against King City. For the record, I didn't even ask.
Friday it was Arroyo Grande's Reade Lobdill, who rushed for 247 yards, a rarity for the Eagles considering the way they share the ball in coach Jon Huss' fly offense.
Admitted Lobdill, also a preseason All-County linebacker: "I have to say that I didn't make a tackle in the first half. I was focused so much on offense."
That was also unprovoked.
I'm preparing to interview Coast Union running back T.J. Nelson, who ran for 451 yards at Fresno Christian this week, sometime soon, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to hear that he chopped down the cherry tree or shot the sheriff or didn't eat his Wheaties.
If only professional athletes could be as open. Who wouldn't want to hear a certain high-profile baseball player admit he juiced Â or another world-famous cyclist for that matter? Anyone who heard Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers bumbling this week about the pine tar incident knows how honest he is.
But here in San Luis Obispo County, our athletes spit it right out. Here's to telling the truth, no matter how unflattering it may seem.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 12:13 AM
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Though the Atascadero High defense may feel like it shut down San Luis Obispo in the Greyhounds' 42-13 football victory Friday, it's because they were only hoping to contain Tigers receiver Kevin Martin.
Martin, who set a San Luis Obispo team record with 189 yards on seven receptions in win over Righetti last week, followed up the effort with a 13-catch, 162-yard performance agaist Atascadero and scored both of the Tigers' touchdowns.
"He's definitely the best receiver we've seen," Greyhounds coach Vic Cooper said, "including the kid from Clovis that's going to Fresno State."
Cooper was referring to Clovis' Matt Lindsay, a Scout.com two-star recruit who made a verbal committment to the Bulldogs and caught 12 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in Atascadero's 17-15 win in Clovis last month.
Martin, who leads the Central Coast in receptions and yards, entered the game ranked in the top 15 in the state in receving yards and 46th in the nation, according to Maxpreps.com.
And he's quickly made a reputation for making the tough catches: diving grabs, acrobatic leaps and holding on the ball after big hits.
"We have a little kind of connection," Tigers quarterback Conner Reese said. "He makes great plays and that's what I like."
When was the last time a league MVP was a receiver? If the Tigers can rebound from the loss and get back into the PAC 7 title picture, Martin could find himself in that kind of a discussion.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 12:38 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
As Stuart Browlee stood arms stretched in goal for the Atascadero High boys water polo team — his belly button above the water level — there was no way he was giving up a goal to visiting Nipomo High.
"Stop standing up!" one mustachioed Titans fan yelled.
See, your feet aren't supposed to touch the bottom of the pool in water polo. But here was Brownlee, standing straight up with nearly half his body out of the water. But most pools are deep enough where standing up isn't really a problem.
I wasn't too surprised to find out Brownlee wasn't 14-feet tall when he crawled out of the pool after the game. The real shocker was that one end of Atascadero's pool is only 3 1/2-feet deep. That's like one half of a football field being 20-yards wide.
Because of the shallow end, the rules get bent a little when it comes to goaltending. Contrary to spectators' gripes, the goalie is allowed to stand.
And that's not the only tweak to the rulebook and strategy guide. The goals are super huge, and the teams switch sides every period as opposed to only at halftime. Plus, most goals are scored by whichever offensive team is currently attacking the deep end.
Players other than the goalkeeper still aren't allowed to touch bottom, which can get a little ridiculous when guys like Atascadero's 6-foot-3 hole set Karl Weit can nearly sit down in the shallow end and keep their heads above water.
Fans knock the pool. Opposing coaches say it somewhat disables their team's offense. Even Atascadero coach Mitch Stafford denies it's an advantage for his team, saying it's just less of a disadvantage for the Greyhounds. And when Atascadero goes on the road, it makes other pools seem twice as wide and even more cavernous.
It certainly is a different brand of water polo. That is, if you're accustomed to water polo. Football fans are probably thinking, "As long as it's deep enough to submerge all the Speedos, it's cool."
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 9:07 PM
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Before I went off to cover Atascadero's thrilling 24-17 prep football victory over Arroyo Grande — the Greyhounds' first win over the Eagles since 1997 — Tribune intern Tristan Aird told me that Doug Hitchen Stadium in Arroyo Grande had the best press box on the Central Coast.
He lauded the construction and the viewing angles, the large windows and the lighting.
Tristan was right. The Doug Hitchen press box experience was priceless but not because of its comfort.
The best part about the box is that the radio and print media are all together in one big room. Normally, the radio play-by-play announcers are separated from the newspaper reporters and put in different rooms.
Picture the Atascadero radio guys in one extreme corner, the Arroyo Grande guys in the other, this unbiased reporter in the middle and several Eagles boosters filling out the rest of the chairs.
In a tight game, it was a hoot to hear the Atascadero radio guys pipe up when the Greyhounds made a big play or got nailed with a controversial penalty. And when Arroyo Grande busted a big run, the Eagles' play-by-play men had their say. It was kind of like watching all the television channels at once.
And to top it all off, the stadium's namesake, Doug Hitchen himself, who worked at the high school for 34 years and 17 as principal, sat like a king on his throne in the dead center of the box, fittingly on a chair taller than everyone else's.
Is Arroyo Grande’s the best press box? I haven't been to them all, but it was a great place to watch an exciting game.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 12:12 AM
Thursday, October 12, 2006
For the record, I very much enjoy when readers log onto the blog and tell us exactly what we’re doing wrong. I wish everyone would do it.
But for some less internet-savvy readers, they just wait until they see a guy with a clipboard at a high school game, ask if he's with the T.T. and do it in person. That’s cool, too. (Except for the T.T. part. It’s just “The Tribune” now. Telegrams are so last century.)
The last time a reader came up to me, he brought up a good point. I was forced to reveal a heavily guarded newspaper secret. And now I’m giving it away in this blog.
He wanted to know if I was the guy who came out to last week’s water polo match — because if I was, I got all the details wrong. I told him that nobody was at the match.
“But it said ‘staff reports,’ ” he exclaimed.
I might get fired for telling you this, but here’s the journalism secret revealed: “Staff reports” in a byline is newspaper code for “we weren’t there.”
We sports journalists also have other cryptic ciphers, kind of like the “Da Vinci Code.” And I’ve heard when you put them all together and read them backward in a mirror, they reveal the source of the Barry Bonds grand jury leak, but I’m not sure.
Basically, whenever you read a sports story that’s penned by the staff of The Tribune, it means the report’s information was either taken over the phone or written off a news release — or both. Sometimes I write them or another reporter or editor does. Most times it’s one of our interns or news assistant.
Mistakes surely happen, but not because some reporter covered the game with his eyes closed.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 10:03 PM
Friday, October 06, 2006
OK, since you made it pretty clear in my blog last Friday that The Tribune, meaning me, doesn't really know much of anything when it comes to high school football, I've decided to go to the people who do: You, the readers.
But seriously, all phony self-deprication aside, we're halfway through high school football season, and I want to know who you think are the players who've been most impressive so far this season.
I'll throw a few easy names out there. San Luis Obispo quarterback Conner Reese has looked sharp. Atascadero running back Michael Reynoso surprised me. And despite a ho-hum showing against Templeton on Friday, Morro Bay's Kevin Scott has showcased his sprinter's speed.
Now before some rogue Mission Prep Harrison Keller fan blasts me for leaving him out, remember, I can only go to one game a week. This is your chance to tell me who I need to see -- without calling me an idiot preferably.
Who's on "Bloggin' with Scroggin's" midseason All-County team? You decide.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:29 PM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Ashley Adams just wanted everybody to give her some space.
Phone calls, e-mails, nagging fans. The Division I volleyball recruiting process was taking a mental toll on the 16-year-old San Luis Obispo High junior last winter.
Now 17 and a senior, Adams said she was rushed into making a decision when she verbally committed to attend Louisville on an athletic scholarship in February. And two weeks ago Wednesday, the Tribune County Player of the Year rescinded the committment, which she made without visiting the Kentucky campus.
"I thought I wanted to go there, but I just wanted recruiting to be over," Adams said. "It was was a rushed decision."
Now Adams is back on the market, and she said hometown upstart Cal Poly and perennial power Hawaii are her top two, with Louisville still harboring an outside shot to get her back.
Mustangs coach Jon Stevenson, who is prohibited by the NCAA from commenting on recruits, is trying to build the program back up to its glory days in the mid-80s, when the Mustangs were a national title contender. An athletic talent like Adams is sure to further that goal.
Before she can take her official visits, Adams has to take the ACT test, which she's scheduled to do Oct. 28. She said Cal Poly may have the advantage of being close to home, but the most important factors in her decision will be quality of education and which school will give her the best opportunity to play volleyball after college.
"Olympics, beach, whatever," Adams said. "I love volleyball so much, I want to play as long as a I can for as long as I can."
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:59 PM
Saturday, September 30, 2006
After coming back to the office from Paso Robles late Friday, looking at the high school football scoreboard up on the wall had my eyebrows raised so much, they make a bigger salary than I do now.
Here's a sampling:
Atascadero 17, Clovis 15 — In Clovis. On homecoming!
Nipomo 23, Cabrillo 7 — The Titans (3-1) have doubled their program's win total in four games this year.
West Bakersfield 37, Paso Robles 12 — I was there for that one, and it still had me shocked.
Santa Ynez 30, Templeton 27 — The Eagles lead their first Los Padres League game well into the fourth quarter before falling short.
The Atascadero victory gives Central Coast football a ton of legitimacy. The Nipomo win continues an unprecedented year of success that has to be a big step for the fledgling football program. Paso Robles' crushing defeat keeps in line with the Bearcats' Jekyll and Hyde routine. And Templeton was this close to silencing all those critics who knocked the Eagles for playing weaker competition in the Central Section but collapsed down the stretch.
Friday night was full of soap opera plotlines. It's too bad I couldn't be everywhere at once.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 1:05 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Mission Prep boys basketball nearly has the man of its dreams. But it's costing the Royals precious time.
Sean Chambers seems like the perfect choice to replace former Royals coach Tom Mott, who led the team to three straight Southern California regional finals but resigned in May amidst a recruiting scandal.
Chambers is in the Cal Poly Athletic Hall of Fame. He's Mustangs basketball's first All-American. He played professionally for 14 years overseas. He has credentials that would make any athletic director swoon. And he's excited about the job.
“(Mission Prep has) got a good nucleus of kids coming back,” he said Wednesday. “I think they can win the state from what I’ve seen. They could be a state contender.”
Even Chambers' wife, Marina, is pumped about the possible move, but in the end (an announcement could come by the end of the week), the pair could decide that it's not the right time to relocate from the stable life they've built in Chambers' home town near Sacramento.
The worst part about that is it would leave a bunch of kids — which has already been stripped of two section titles and had its coach shockingly resign the week of prom — directionless with less than two months before the start of what could be a tumultuous season.
But to be fair, it doesn't seem the Chamberses are trying to hang the kids out to dry. Chambers said Marina has had two job interviews in San Luis Obispo since he applied for the Mission Prep coaching job. And he's even explored at least partially relocating his athletic jersey manufacturing outfit to the Central Coast.
Chambers is trying to make it happen. But it still might not. And it's not all his fault. First-year Mission Prep athletic director Brady Lock wasn't brought on until July, and when principal Rev. Charles Tilley resigned abruptly in August, Chambers said it only stalled the hiring process.
If Chambers comes on, it looks like a great hire. But if he doesn't, you can't blame him.
Or can you? Tribune readers left page after page of finger-pointing messages on sanluisobispo.com on the Mission Prep scandal, blaming whomever they felt like. Tell me what you think about this new development.
Posted by Joshua D. Scroggin at 11:27 PM
Monday, September 25, 2006
Scroggin's blog: Can Tigers keep up strong defense?
With the San Marcos High football team flopping fumbles all over the field against San Luis Obispo on Friday, it was hard to tell if the Tigers' defense was forcing the fumbles or if the Royals were giving them away.
But this can't be disputed: In three games, San Luis Obispo (2-1) has held each of its opponents to an average of two scores per game.
Ambiguity of the fumbles aside, the Tigers' defense was smothering in a 43-10 win over San Marcos ' giving up just 170 yards of total offense, picking off a pass and limiting several Royals ballcarriers to zero or negative yards rushing.
Including a 14-13 loss to Oxnard and a 34-14 win over Dos Pueblos, the San Luis Obispo defense is giving up just 12.7 points per game. In PAC 5 play last year, the Tigers gave up 31.7 points per game.
Although standout quarterback Conner Reese and the offense are the ones getting the recognition, it'll be the performance of the defense that will determine whether the Tigers can continue a positive turnaround from a 2-7-1 2005 season, their worst in more than 10 years.
San Luis Obispo coach Craig Winninghoff declined to predict whether the defense can remain this stout all season, but he said that's the goal.
To those of you that have seen the games, what do you think? Is the Tigers' defense for real or a byproduct of slumping offenses? Can it keep San Luis Obispo in PAC 7 contention?
Joshua D. Scroggin
Posted by Brian Milne at 3:35 PM