Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bulletin board material

It's become clear to me the past few months how powerful the typed word can be around here.

It seems like every other week there's a prep sports team feeling overlooked or undervalued in the public sphere.

"Such and such team was not featured in The Tribune this week! How dare that Scroggin?!"

I've come to terms with the sentiment. It's a fact of life that every team in every sport cannot be mentioned in every story.

I'm usually allowed between 525 and 630 words to tell an engaging story you want to read — even if a friend or relative of yours is not playing — and include all the pertinent facts. Considering I've already typed more than 115 words so far on this blog post, it's not very much space.

So maybe you won't read about yourself or your favorite team in the sports pages tomorrow. With a dozen schools teaming up on one sports reporter, you probably won't.

Smart coaches have used the perceived slight as motivation. And that's all right with me. I'll still keep making coverage decisions based on the same criteria.

But know that if your team isn't getting constant coverage, there's still a positive to come out of it.

Your school's coach may be giving the uber-effective us-against-the-world speech right now as you read this.

And since The Tribune's coverage already produces so much bulletin board material, here's some more: Countywide power rankings for some of the winter team sports.

Boys Basketball
1. Morro Bay
2. San Luis Obispo
3. Mission Prep
4. Paso Robles
5. Templeton
Also considered: Arroyo Grande

Girls Basketball
1. Arroyo Grande
2. Morro Bay
3. Mission Prep
4. Atascadero
5. Paso Robles

Boys Soccer
1. San Luis Obispo
2. Paso Robles
3. Arroyo Grande
4. Nipomo
5. Atascadero

Girls Soccer
1. Arroyo Grande
2. San Luis Obispo
3. Atascadero
4. Nipomo
5. Mission Prep

1. Atascadero
2. Morro Bay
3. Paso Robles
4. Nipomo
5. Arroyo Grande

Hey, if your team wasn't mentioned or isn't as high as you think it should be. Feel free to print this page out, highlight whatever parts and send it to the coach. Some free motivation care of this blog. Happy Holidays!

** Regarding the omission of girls water polo: I don't know enough about anything at this point except Arroyo Grande might be the best around. I guess you can think of that statement as a bonus track of motivation.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Derrick Jasper update

Nope, I haven't spoken with the former Paso Robles High basketball phenom in a while, but a reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader recently did a story on a recent surgery that's kept him off the court for Kentucky.

You can read it here.

Preseason reports had Jasper working on his outside shot and primed for a breakout season this year. It seemed as though coming back from microfracture surgery in the offseason was more like an afterthought.

But Jasper hasn't played in any of the Wildcats' first five games and appears to have a way to go before returning to the court.

Jasper, perhaps the highest touted basketball player ever to come out of San Luis Obispo County, has had a rough start to his college career. What are your takes on the local hero?

(And don't say you think Jasper is good, but not as good as the All-Los Padres League football team. We're planning on running the all-league teams for every league and sport along with the All-County girls volleyball stuff later next week.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hoop it here?

One of the recent posters on the previous blog, which is up over 125 comments now, is talking about looking ahead to next football season. But "anonymous 8:42" (Hey! I thought you guys and girls were going to stick with names?!) is not alone.

You all seem interested in next season already. But here's my question: Is anyone sticking around to talk basketball?

The Tribune's high school basketball preview stories were published in Thursday's paper, and I'm spending all day Thursday at Morro Bay's Harding Invitational Tournament.

I know the previews did not go very in-depth into all of the local teams, but that's more of a staffing challenge than lazy reporting by yours truly. Feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any specific questions or concerns on that front.

I'm also planning a more thorough league preview once the teams get ready to enter their respective conference play and I have seen all of them in person. It'll be similar to the midseason review we ran last year.

Anywho, I'm gauging the basketball interest. Capt. of Templeton Injured, it seems like you've got much to cheer about with Michael Hattar. And Logan Budd disciples in Morro Bay can shift their hopes over to Dylan Royer. PAC 7 teams look like they'll have a tough time with Righetti, but there's plenty of intrigue there, too.

Will Paso Robles make a comeback under Scott Larson? Can Arroyo Grande carry over last season's playoff success with composed-beyond-his-years sophomore center Tanner Hinek? What direction does San Luis Obispo go in the post-Conner Reese era? And how will Atascadero and Nipomo rebound after losing a couple of great scorers?

Mission Prep still has plenty left in the cupboard in its second year without Tom Mott. The Christmas Classic looks to be top notch. And I have a feeling there might be plenty of parity in girls basketball.

So what do you say? Can we talk some hoop?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Picking the All-County team

I can't say for sure what it was this year, but picking my second Tribune All-County Football Team was tough — much harder than last year.

Before I go into which spots seemed the most difficult, let me break down how these things get worked out.

First, I'll look make a gut-feeling team based on who played the best in games that I covered or otherwise saw in person. I tried to see every team at least once.

Second, I'll check out statistical leaders in rushing, passing and receiving yards, quarterback rating, tackles, sacks and interceptions. Then I'll make a strictly statistical team.

Third, I put out calls to every county coach (I wish I had the time to reach out to Santa Maria teams like Righetti and St. Joseph, but that's a luxury I couldn't afford). I listen to each coach's nominations of his own players — and especially to their evaluations of opponents — to form an all-coach team.

Then I'll meld the "stats team" with the "coach team" and use the "gut team" as a kind of tiebreaker if I'm having trouble.

Hope that makes sense.

Well, it was especially difficult to rank the three quarterbacks after Morro Bay's Logan Budd. All three candidates — Mason Sperakos of Nipomo, Davey Schultz of San Luis Obispo and Dylan Morrow of Mission Prep — were penciled in as a first-teamer on at least one rough draft.

Deciding which would end up as the second team guy and the other as an honorable mention was one of the tougher decisions I had to make this year.

In the end, I went with Sperakos No. 1 for having a good yardage total, a good efficiency rating and for leading Nipomo to its first playoff berth in program history. Morrow was second because of a stellar touchdown total and value to his team, which was eliminated from the playoffs when he went out with injury. Schultz, though a front-runner for first-team recognition, made honorable mention. He had a great yardage total, but his efficiency and interception total hurt.

I also shuffled around the first- and second-team receivers and running backs a bit. I even added an official fullback slot to help ease the decisions. But linebacker was particularly troubling this year, too.

With his statistics and athleticism, SLO's Zack Thorne was a lock. After that, it was tough to slot the rest of the candidates in the best order.

In any event, a lot of time and energy went into researching and selecting this year's team. I don't expect everybody to be happy.

But here's the best part: If you aren't happy, you can be heard on this blog. Let me know who I missed or what you would have done differently.

On a side note, I really appreciate everybody's comments. This blog was given an intra-company award this month mostly because of the high volume of Web traffic and the interaction from readers.

You readers, posters and poll-voters have made this The Tribune's most watched blog, and I'd love to see the interest continue into basketball season.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Half empty or half full? You decide

Friday definitely was a feel-good day for San Luis Obispo County football fans.

All three of the county's high school football teams that hosted first round playoff matches Friday night won.

In some pretty impactful victories for their programs Atascadero, Morro Bay and Paso Robles all move on to the second round.

Atascadero and Paso Robles won playoff games for the first time in more than a few years, and the Greyhounds became the first PAC 5 or PAC 7 first-place seed to win in the first round. For Morro Bay, the win continued an undefeated season that gets more special each week.

On the flip side, the three road playoff teams had their seasons end with losses. San Luis Obispo, Nipomo and North County Christian are playing basketball.

Nipomo had a chance to join the group by winning its first playoff game in program history but lost by a field goal in overtime. North County Christian was playing for a chance to host an 8-man Division II semifinal but fell by 12.

Both teams had a chance to continue some feel good stories but fell short.

San Luis Obispo was up against a powerhouse, and few can blame them for a 27-7 loss to No. 1 Northern Division seed St. Bonaventure.

But what a special weekend it would have been if any five of the six teams had won. Nipomo almost pulled it off. North County Christian was close.

Sure, it was a great Friday for Atascadero, Morro Bay and Paso Robles. But is anyone else lamenting the missed opportunities of the other teams?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't call me a jinx, but...

Yes, the story in today's Tribune is true.

The PAC 5/7 football champion in each of the past five years has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

I didn't really have the space to go year-by-year through the history in the paper, so I bring it to you here in reverse chronological order.

2006 — Atascadero, which finished 9-1 and won it’s first title since 1997, got upset 34-27 at home by a tough Saugus team that fell to division title runner-up Moorpark 56-27 in the second round.

Second-place San Luis Obispo, which lost 42-13 to Atascadero that year, drew Dos Pueblos, a team the Tigers beat 34-14 in week 1, in the first round. SLO won 21-20 and lost 21-10 to Westlake in the second round.

2005 — Paso Robles won the PAC 5 at 6-5 (4-0 PAC 7) but lost to Newbury Park 39-36 in the first round and would have had to face eventual division IV champ St. Bonaventure in the second.

Second-place Arroyo Grande beat Santa Monica 27-10 in the first round and fell to runner up Moorpark 26-0 in the second.

2004 — PAC 5 champion Arroyo Grande was upended in the first round by Thousand Oaks 38-31 while second-place San Luis Obispo made a run to the semifinals by beating Camarillo 28-21 and Royal 45-21 before falling to eventual champion St. Bonaventure 42-14.

2003 — In a similar finish to 2004, PAC 5 champ Arroyo Grande lost in the first round 20-7 to Moorpark, and runner-up San Luis Obispo beat North Torrance 44-0 in the first before losing in the second round.

2002 — There was a three-way tie for first between San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Righetti. San Luis Obispo got the best seed and was beat 7-3 bv San Marcos in the first round. Paso Robles was second and beat Santa Monica 42-8 before losing 36-29 to eventual champion Westlake in the second round.

Which idiom will hold true? "Never bet against the streak" or "Records are made to be broken"?

I vote for this one (in case any fans feel like I'm bringing on the bad luck): "Don't shoot the messenger."

Monday, November 12, 2007

County Player of the Year

In response to a couple of the commenters, it's never too early to start thinking about player of the year candidates.

I put up a new poll so readers can vote on their pick.

So cast your votes there. If there's anyone I left out, let me know on the comments. And also, please give your votes for All-County first- and second-teamers.

I know playoffs are just starting for the big two leagues, but The Tribune's policy the past few years has been to get the All-County stuff out on Thanksgiving, which is fast approaching. Don't wait until it's too late to get your input heard.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

And that game was good

This blog was just as much a part of the hype machine for the Atascadero-Paso Robles game as any other news medium. And the buildup was reaching biblical proportions.

But can anyone who was there — no matter which side of War Memorial Stadium you sat on — tell me that the 24-21 Greyhounds win did not live up to every expectation?

It's instantly one of the top three high school football games I've ever seen.

The win was a magical moment for Atascadero. The celebration was intense. The print reporters and the television guys were scrambling for interviews on tiptoes trying to recognize faces in a sea of confusion.

Imagine my face when Greyhounds quarterback Steven Manier walks straight out of a television interview and says this to me:

"You went with the Bearcats," Manier said — only half joking and half expecting me to go jump in a lake. "I saw that."

(Who says kids don't read these days?)

Yeah, I thought Paso Robles would win. The Bearcats had a good shot, too. You have to admire some of Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke's guts. He coaches high school football like the rest of us play Madden.

But there's also something special going on in A-town. Vic Cooper has built team strength, unity and morale. The kids seem humble, motivated and hard-working.

Picking against the Greyhounds never diminished that. And anyone who was there to see the win witnessed the momentum the Atascadero program has.

The next step for the Greyhounds, or any of the other playoff-bound teams for that matter, is to translate their success into the postseason.

It's been a while, SLO County.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Proggin' with Scroggin

You know, Proggin'. As in prognosticating.

Yeah, I know I added an extra "g" — but it's funny though, right?

OK, maybe not. It worked with bloggin'. Hey, Scrog was born to blog.

I'm also 13-5 in two weeks of picking high school football winners. Perhaps proggin' might also be my game.

To hear my picks against the spread FREE on a recorded message call (805) 781-... Kidding. And for the record, I admonish gambling of any sort.

To the anonymous poster that asked about the CIF-Southern Section's size. I put in an e-mail to the state office and hope to have some feedback soon.

To atown!! and bearcat101: On with the picks and a little of my opinion on the Paso Robles-Atascadero game.

I'm going with Paso Robles — I picked the Bearcats at the beginning of the season because it looked like they had more experienced skill players back from the year before. Though Atascadero looks to have more than capably filled a lot of the holes made by graduating seniors, little has happened this season to prove one team is especially better than the other.

Both teams have had a few ugly moments. Both have looked utterly dominant as well.

Honestly, the game might be too close to call, but since I have to pick one, I'll go with my initial selection, Paso Robles.

That doesn't mean the Greyhounds are worthless. I could easily see Atascadero winning the game. Here's how I see either team running away with it.

For Atascadero to win: The Greyhounds will have to be able to run the ball FOR SCORES against the Bearcats defense. Long drives and time off the clock means less without getting the ball in the end zone. See: Atascadero's game against San Luis Obispo. On defense, the Greyhounds will have to rattle cucumber cool sophomore QB Thomas Bernal somehow. He passed at will against Arroyo Grande and ran at will against the Tigers. Atascadero might have the defense to limit him from doing both. As long as they keep Bernal, Nathan Nelson and Co. from rattling off quick scores, the Greyhounds have a good shot at winning.

For Paso Robles to win: The Bearcats will have to score early and often. If they can get a mutli-score lead, they can get the Greyhounds into passing situations — where they've looked the least comfortable this season. On defense, Paso Robles has to bend but not break. They can give up rushing yards, but they can't let Nick Tenhaeff break free for 30-plus-yard touchdown runs. The Bearcats also have to be able to pass and run. Atascadero might be the best defensive team Paso Robles has played all season. The Bearcats won't be able to be one-dimensional.

Of course, none of that stuff could happen. Or we could get a mixed bag and someone wins off a last-second hail Mary or — don't cringe to remember this Greyhounds fans — a non-called knee touching down at the end zone on a kickoff that gets returned for a touchdown.

I'm rooting for neither team, but a close game would be a lot more fun to cover.

As for the rest of the games: I'm going with San Luis Obispo over Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay over Santa Ynez, Templeton over Santa Maria and St. Joseph over Nipomo. And I'll go out on a limb and predict both Coast Union and North County Christian will win first round playoff matches on the road.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Paso poll power

Tribune file photo by Joe Johnston

The who's-going-farthest-in-the-playoffs poll closed yesterday, and you can see the results.

With 42 percent of the votes, Paso Robles is your most likely team to make a deep postseason run. The Bearcats were neck and neck with Atascadero for the first week of the poll, but voting for the Greyhounds seemed to cool off with the loss to Righetti.

"Other" also got a huge show of support. Most specified others votes went to San Luis Obispo, who can lock up the PAC 7's final Northern Division playoff spot with a win over Arroyo Grande — the team to get the second most "other" votes — this week.

A Tigers loss puts A.G. in, and Eagles boosters have already conjured memories of when they won a Division III section title as the No. 16 seed in 1997.

Since having clinched its first playoff berth in program history, Nipomo got a couple of "other" votes as did Mission Prep and Templeton — two teams that have already been eliminated from the postseason.

But the big understatement was Morro Bay's lack of support. The Pirates are still ranked No. 1 in the section, and the numbers say they'll make a deep run.

I guess Morro Bay fans were too busy flooding our phone lines last week (when we accidentally called them "Eagles" in a headline. oops.) to go online and vote.

But enough about the playoffs, let's turn our attention to rivalry week!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Picks of the week

I haven't written anything with a Halloween theme this week, and since there's still a couple minutes left in October, I'll come clean with an evil-ish sort of stat.

My winning percentage for picking high school games last week was an even .666.

Definitely scary. You'd think since I've seen all the teams, I could pick them better than that.

I will this week. Here's the story I'm sticking to:

Paso Robles will walk away with a win over San Luis Obispo — This could be a trap game for the Bearcats and sophomore quarterback Thomas Bernal. The Tigers have a great pass defense and make a living off forcing turnovers. But Paso Robles will have enough speed in the run game to win.

The Greyhounds get right at home against Lompoc — Coming off a disappointing loss, Atascadero will be out to prove its mettle. The Greyhounds will have to prove they can pass someday, but Friday will not be it.

Righetti keeps it rolling at home against Arroyo Grande — There is a potential for the Eagles to take advantage of a letdown after the Warriors' big win over Atascadero, but Arroyo Grande just doesn't seem to have it this year.

Morro Bay will take the LPL title — The Pirates will win the Los Padres League tilt with St. Joseph, which tarnished the showdown with a loss last week. Can anybody block Jerome Long?

Nipomo has the talent to beat Santa Ynez — And when they do, they'll be all alone in third place in the LPL, on track for their first playoff berth in program history.

Templeton ends their span of tough losses against Cabrillo — The Eagles have lost three of four, but tradition says they should have enough pride to end the skid and get back on track.

Coast Union will clinch a winning season by beating Mendota — I have a feeling this might be a defensive affair, and though the Broncos haven't won one of those this season, they do it Friday.

Mission Prep will open their home field in style — Laton is a quality opponent, and QB Dylan Morrow is out for the Royals, but they hung tough without him last week and will do enough to get the win.

North County Christian's fantastic season takes a hit — Who's heart wouldn't root for the Crusaders? But my gut says Cuyama Valley might be too tough.

This is Shandon's last chance to get a win this season — If the Outlaws play as they did against Valley Christian two weeks go, they might get it. If not, things could get ugly.

DON'T FORGET!! If you're going to post, please pick a user name. And as always, keep it clean.

This could be a banner blog

Let's play the name game.

Tribune photographer David Middlecamp, an admitted soccer enthusiast, had a great idea for me Wednesday.

He wants me to take all you blog posters to task for neglecting to type in user names when you post a comment.

"Right now it looks like Anonymous said...is the world's most schizophrenic sports fan," Middlecamp said.

Now, I'm not gonna go all dictator on here and delete anybody's post who doesn't include a user name. But please, I implore you, pick one.

It's easy. You don't have to sign up. When you choose an identity, just pick "other" and type a name in. Just remember yours and use it each time.

It doesn't even have to be your real name. That's what's great about the Internet. You can still be anonymous. Well, I sort of gave that up by taking this gig.

But you can be.

So when I log on to see who's chattering about next week's matchups, I want to see posts from people like Houndsfan07 or prCATS1 or Budd4PREZ.

Really, it'll help me be able to keep track of who's who, and I can better respond back to you guys and girls. That's what we all want out of this: Interaction.

And here's a piece straight from the request file

According to a source close to the PAC 7 — I've always wanted to use a phrase like that — the playoff priority in football should there be a tie for any playoff spots is as follows...

San Luis Obispo
Arroyo Grande
Paso Robles

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Don't hate on Hasay

Someone made light of the news impact Jordan Hasay has in our community in a post on a previous message.

Yeah, it may seem like she gets a lot of coverage. But to be fair to her feats, she really is a once in a generation athlete and might just be one of the most famous people — not athletes, people — in SLO County.

Put her up there with Zac Efron and Chuck Liddell, and by the end of her career, she might eclipse them all.

There is not a week that goes by where someone doesn't call the office asking about how they can see her. By comparison, she is the only local athlete who gets such calls. She's the only SLO County prep athlete I know with a Wikipedia page.

Speculation is by no means limited to whether or not she'll go to Cal Poly. Some people project her to go pro right out of high school. She's also accomplished enough in the classroom to get an academic scholarship to just about anywhere she chooses.

We'll find enough to write about when she eventually leaves the area, but for now, I recommend appreciating her while she's around.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Luster lost

With Atascadero's loss to Righetti on Friday, the Greyhounds' season finale with Paso Robles just won't be the same.

Even if both teams win next week, some of the shine is off of a rivalry that looked to pit two teams with unblemished league records head to head for the title.

It still should be an important matchup, but the race has become a little more complicated.

Well, it's still simple for the Bearcats: Win out, and you're the champion.

But a loss next week puts San Luis Obispo back in the hunt and gives Atascadero an opportunity to be back in the driver's seat.

A Tigers win would mean Paso Robles could do no better than a tie for the league championship and would lose the tiebreaker to San Luis Obispo unless the Tigers lost to Arroyo Grande in the finale.

It would also mean Atascadero could win the league title and hold the tiebreaker over San Luis Obispo or Paso with wins over Lompoc and the Bearcats.

The Tigers would need to beat Paso Robles then have the Bearcats beat the Greyhounds to win the top spot in the league.

And Righetti, the team that spoiled the party, needs Lompoc to beat Atascadero, San Luis Obispo to beat Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande to beat San Luis Obispo.

Every single one of those outcomes has to happen, and the Warriors need to beat Arroyo Grande to force a gnarly four-way tie for the title that might need the jaws of life to determine which three will get the league's CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoff spots.

Before I scramble your brain with any more hypotheticals, my only point is had both A-town and Paso gone into rivalry week unbeaten in league, the outcome of that game might have been The Tribune's No. 1 Sports Story of the Year.

Now, it's pretty much guaranteed to be Jordan Hasay.

Oh, and here's my record on picks. North County and Shandon have yet to face off, and I stand 5-3 this week.

The sentimental pick of Templeton over Pioneer Valley backfired, and Mission Prep lost on the road at Orange Cove. I thought Atascadero could be in for some trouble but honestly didn't see the Greyhounds losing.

How do you guys and girls see it?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Picking my way into your heart (or onto your hit list)

Alright, I was working on these Wednesday before I ran out of time. But before I go through with this, let me say for the record, it's just for fun. I'm not rooting for any team to win or any team to lose.

Little known point of fact: I don't care who wins or loses any game I cover in any sport.

The reality for me is I have to write the same number of words no matter who wins. I still have to interview somebody after the game, and I still have to type up the box score.

Now, off the objective journalist soapbox, here are my picks for the week:

Paso Robles will continue it's roll at Arroyo Grande — The Bearcats are proving they can plug in any of a number of heroes into the spotlight and come away with big scores. Their O-line will be too much for the Eagles.

Atascadero will defend its home turf against Righetti — Sorry, no clever wordplay like Righetti and meatballs from me. But this one isn't as slam dunk as it may seem. The Warriors are the best passing team in the league. If they can move the ball on the Greyhounds D (big if) and get lead like they did against Paso Robles, Atascadero could be in for a tough one. The Greyhounds haven't proven their ability to come back from a deficit and haven't put up big passing numbes all year. Still, with that defense, that rushing offense and being at home, I'll go with A-town.

San Luis Obispo will come back from Lompoc with another win — The Tigers have the defense to play anyone close. They did it against Atascadero last week. The Braves' defense won't pose as much as a challenge, but San Luis Obispo, which hasn't won by more than 12 points all year could open themselves up for an upset bid if they don't get the offense going.

Morro Bay makes it 8-0 at home against Cabrillo — I don't see anyone stopping Logan Budd and the Pirates. The only thing that might trip up the Pirates is if they look ahead to a showdown with St. Joseph. If they remain focused on the task at hand, they should cruise against the Conquistadores.

Nipomo will get back on the winning track at Santa Maria — Every Los Padres League team has been squashing the Saints. No reason why Nipomo, which should get another 100-yard game from RB Billy Chambers, and a defense led by lineman Korben Boaz won't keep Santa Maria's losing streak going.

After a couple close losses already, Templeton breaks the trend by beating Pioneer Valley at home — Eagles DL Lee Ormonde could be huge against the power running attack of the Panthers. Templeton has been able to keep games close. They get over the hump in another nail-biter.

Mission Prep will cement their first playoff berth since moving back to 8-man with a win over Orange Cove — This is a huge game in the Royals' league. Mission Prep handled Orange Cove the first time around when the teams played at Morro Bay. It could easily go the other way if the Royals don't tighten it up against the run.

Coast Union will stomp Fresno Christian at home — This is the team T.J. Nelson set a Central Section rushing record against last year in Fresno. He might not have 450-plus yards again, but the Broncos will get a win on their home field.

Saturday (8-man)
North County Christian will beat Shandon on the road — NCC will remain undefeated at 8-0 and set up a huge showdown in the season finale against Cuyama Valley, the defending league champion. Again, as long as the Crusaders aren't looking past a lesser opponent, they should get a big win.

Alright, have at it. Vote in the new poll over there on the right, and check out Friday's Tribune for records, players to watch, the media top 10 and a preview of the game of the week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ask... receive. You know how it goes.

Someone asked where's the football?

Here's a little tidbit before you get out to those varsity games tonight: After this evening, I'll have seen every football team in the county play (with the exception of Coast Union and the 8-man teams. Apologies to T.J. Nelson)

I've decided from now until the end of the season, I'm going to playfully pick the winners of each of the remaining games we preview right here on the blog.

It should be fun. It'll give me a chance to talk some more football. It'll give you the chance to call me a moron. And it'll give you all the chance to weigh in on the matchups on the record for yourselves!

Yeah, I've noticed the trash talk has picked up a little here, but as long as we all keep it clean, it's all in good fun.

I'm just not sure what day I'll be posting the picks. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Exclusive video

Here's the finish of a great boys cross country race detailed in Friday's Tribune.

Arroyo Grande's Taylor Castañon edges out Paso Robles' Travis Hallanan in the PAC 7 midseason meet at Fairbanks Cross Country Course.

Plus, it never hurts to get a little plug.

Taylor Castañon

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Friday's final thoughts

As I type this, it's already Saturday. But I wanted to update a thing or two from Friday night's live blog.

The player who was injured and taken from the field was Arroyo Grande's J.D. Gonzalez. Gonzalez took a big hit from wedge-buster Michael Lombardi on a kickoff return and appeared unconscious on the field.

Greyhounds athletic director Sam DeRose said Gonzalez's hospital tests were normal, he was alert and should be OK. Good things to hear.

And after one full week of PAC 7 play, it looks like Atascadero, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo took steps to become the top three teams to beat. The Greyhounds play the Tigers next week. Paso will get its shots after that.

Another thing that jumped out: Templeton held its oppoenent scoreless in the second half for the second straight week. Those Eagles coaches sure know how to make adjustments.

Oh, and if you were wondering if The Tribune expert who picked Atascadero to win by 25+ relished his prediction, you bet a liter of cola he did.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Live blog!

I'm up in Atascadero for the Eagles-Greyhounds game, and I'm doing something new. I'm going to periodically update my thoughts on the game as it plays out.

Follow along or read it all later. Either way, it should be fun.

7:10 p.m. -- I'm all plugged in and thinking about some pregame comments back at the office. One of The Tribune's handicapping experts predicts Atascadero to win by 28+ points. Another says "A.G. might have something for them." I think, with two grind it out running offenses, there might be fewer scoring drives and, in turn, fewer points scored. The Greyhounds should win, but the Eagles should make it close.

7:20 p.m. -- It rained all over the county today, and Atascadero is no exception. The field looks muddy and slick -- especially in the middle of the field. We might be in for a low-scoring run fest afterall. Probably because of the rain, the Atascadero crowd looks a little lighter than usual, but the stands are still at least half filled on the home side. Arroyo Grande's crowd looks a little small, too. C'mon, people, it's football weather!

7:45 p.m.--Arroyo Grande turns the ball over on its first drive with an interception on third and 25 deep in their own territory. Holding by Atastcadero on the return saves a touchdown.

7:50 p.m.-- Atascadero goes for it on fourth and 14 at the Eagles' 15. QB Steven Manier scrambles 14 yards, but comes up just short and Arroyo Grande takes over on their own 1.

7:52 p.m.-- The Eagles fumble it right back and Atascadero punches is in no problem. 7-0 Greyhounds. The game looks sloppy. There have already been four penalties and two fumbles.

8 p.m. Greyhounds up 14-0. Arroyo Grande's in trouble if they can't start moving the ball. Atascadero is scoring quickly.

8:05 p.m. -- There is an Arroyo Grande player down after a big hit on the kickoff return. Because of the angle, nobody in the press box can see the number, but the player appeared to be laying motionless after the play. Training staff reacted quickly to the scary situation, and there was an ambulance on scene within a three minutes.

8:12 p.m. -- The rain is really coming down now. If either team passes the ball in this they're crazy. I know I called some fans out for not coming earlier, but I'm glad I'm in the press box instead of getting drenched.

8:16 p.m. -- The player is taken off the field in the ambulance, presumably to a local hospital. Expect updates when they come. It seems like an injury like this happens at least once a year. Arroyo Grande had a player taken to the hospital last season after what looked like a neck injury. It's hard to tell from up here what kind of injury it was, but best case scenario is probably a concussion. I'll hope against anything worse.

8:25 p.m. -- With 114 yards and two TDs early in the second Atascadero RB Nick Tenhaeff is unstoppable. He's big, strong and fast. Arroyo Grande's having a lot of trouble bringin him down. But the Eagles got a big kickoff return.

8:48 p.m. -- Atascadero leads 27-0. Looks like my prediction for a close game was way off. Arroyo Grande has fumbled four times and lost one. The Greyhounds' pass rush and the wet conditions pretty much means any hopes of quick passing scores in the second half are out. And the Eagles' trademark sweeps are getting stuffed in the poor traction.

9:30 p.m. -- Atascadero leads 34-0. Arroyo Grande has slowed down the Greyhounds' scoring frequency, but this one is over with more than 2:30 left in the third.

9:45 p.m. -- Same score with 3:55 left. I'm shutting down, but I'll be back in office later tonight with a couple more thoughts. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Game of the year

That's how I'm referring to Morro Bay's 27-23 win over Templeton on Friday night.

It's the best game I've seen this season.

I remember posting a blog last year asking which rivalry was the best on the Central Coast. And the SLO-A.G. people weighed in. Atascadero-Paso Robles has gotten a lot of juice lately.

But what I saw this week at Templeton was moving.

Not only was the game an exciting, dramatic, back-and-forth fight to the finish, but the atmosphere was unbelievable as well.

The music was blaring. The stadium was packed. There was nowhere to park. And this was AN HOUR BEFORE kickoff.

Normally, anyone can saunter up to a venue with half an hour to 15 minutes to spare and comfortably file in and find a seat.

Not for this game. It was standing room only before 7 p.m. And it didn't stop there.

Templeton handed out rally towels to most fans in the home stands. There was "The Templeton Bounce" and the Eagles dance team krumping at halftime.

And when it mattered most in the fourth quarter, Pirates fans boomed a chant of "Mor-O-Bay! Mor-O-Bay! Mor-O-Bay!" across the stadium. It took maybe two seconds for the Eagles fans to counter with "Tem-Pul-Ton! Tem-Pul-Ton! Tem-Pul-Ton!"

"I can sum it up in one word right now," Morro Bay coach John Andree said. "Rivalry. And I think no matter what the records are going to be down the road, it's gonna be like this every year."

And thanks to an idea by Templeton coach Don Crow, the teams will be playing for that trophy up at the top of the blog entry. It made its debut at Friday's game with last year's score already etched on.

And though some might be quick to dismiss the gimmick, it will a great way to add fuel to a rivalry that's already among the best around in only its second season.

Last but not least, here's a video of the trophy delivery. (Some TV guy got in my way at one point, but I got the last laugh — my video has cool music at the end. Neener.)

Clash on the Coast

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Friday, October 05, 2007

Poll No. 2 is in the books

OK, the Paso-Atascadero poll is officially closed. The tough part is, can we say there's even an official result?

The way the voting see-sawed back and forth, it's likely the majority could have changed 10 more times if I'd kept the poll active all the way until game's true date. (Nov. 9).

Here's how it went if you hadn't been paying attention: When I first posed the question of who would win if the Bearcats and Greyhounds football teams played tomorrow, Atascadero got a resounding amount of support.

There were multiple answers, and Greyhounds supporters had given their team the edge in a close victory, a blowout, overtime, you name it. Most picked blowout.

Word from San Luis Obispo (home to our office) finally leaked the few extra miles up to Paso Robles, and Bearcats fans retaliated with the vote button. An outpouring of support the other way put Paso Robles to win in a blowout as the No. 1 outcome.

I come into the office Friday expecting to see Paso Robles maintaining the advantage, but lo and behold, Atascadero was back on top — bigtime.

Here's the final tally: Greyhounds win going away (179 votes, 51 percent) was the top option. Bearcats win in a blowout (118 votes, 34 percent) was second.

As if couldn't guess what would happen, a few smart alecks had some fun with the "other" option, my favorite being the typed-in answer "who cares?"

But it's obvious people care. I posted a blog about SLO High and Templeton last Friday, and before I knew it, the comments had turned into a full on A-town-Paso debate.

I'd advise the players of both teams not to care too much, yet. They each have a long way to go before that game matters.

Most of the "other" comments were people from San Luis Obispo and Righetti. And either the Tigers or the Warriors — or Arroyo Grande and Lompoc for that matter — could make all of this hoopla moot.

Even so, what say we get another poll going just for fun? Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Still the ones

Tuesday's tennis match between San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande looked to be a showdown on paper.

Both teams were undefeated in league, and the Eagles had one of the best doubles teams around coming into the match.

But like they have seemingly year after year after year, the Tigers beat back yet another challenger and remain the team to beat in the PAC 7 with a 14-4 win.

And it all started with San Luis Obispo's No. 3 singles player, senior Josie Farrior.

In the first rotation, Farrior scored a steady 6-0 win over Geri Richards, who normally plays No. 1 singles for Arroyo Grande.

Farrior then went on to beat Eagles No. 2 player Lexis Derringer 6-2, and her coup de grace was a 7-6 (7-1) comeback victory over Katie Hollister.

And she does it all in the most rad oversized sunglasses I've ever seen. And because of that, she got to star in the latest "Bloggin' with Scroggin" video spot.

Josie Farrior

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who needs an energy drink?

I certainly do not — but not just because of that Yahoo! report that ran a few months ago about how they damage your heart and stuff.

Though I might have wandered back into the office sometime around 11:30 p.m. Friday a little drowsy after reporting on a game that started a half hour late, two scores woke me right up.

The first was San Luis Obispo's 26-14 win over Santa Barbara.

No, the Dons aren't some powerhouse team. They were 1-9 last season, which included a 34-14 spanking by the Tigers. Santa Barbara was, however, 3-0 this year — with a decent win over Righetti.

But my concern with the game wasn't the strength of the Dons but of San Luis Obispo. It's so hard to get a good read on the Tigers.

Their offense hasn't exactly clicked in the post Reese-to-Martin era. And though the defense is fast and talented, there aren't a whole lot of wide bodies donning black and gold.

But 26 points? That's a touchdown and a field goal more than San Luis Obispo has scored in any of its first three games. And it's more impressive against an unbeaten team.

So wake up and give the Tigers some credit. I sure will.

Another team I'm willing to give some props to is Templeton. The Eagles' 36-0 shutout of Los Padres League foe Santa Ynez is the second score that slapped me in the face — not because I didn't expect it but because it should quiet some of the Templeton critics, at least for a while.

Each year, it seems the voters in the Top 10 media poll (and others I'm sure) have been slow to give Templeton much respect. The Eagles haven't played the toughest nonleague schedule and the thinking is that they have to prove it in league before they get any respect.

But I'll give the benefit of the doubt to Don Crow's crew because we make it a little too hard for Templeton.

Just because its a school of somewhere around 800 kids, the notion is they can't be good at anything — especially in a league with Santa Maria schools whose enrollments can number more than twice that.

But the Eagles seem to be making a living of defiying predictions and overachieving.

How about giving Templeton some due until the Eagles show it's undeserved? Good until proven bad. Seems to me they've earned it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Update on a former Tiger

I stood up from my seat and took a step down the stands in San Luis Obispo High's gym to better hear the praise from Arroyo Grande moms who couldn't get enough of this blog.

Oh, how they loved looking at the videos of the kids saying how they read the blog.

This is how I heard it: "Blog, blog, blog ... adualtion ... praise ... you're so cool."

CRUNCH!!! A pair of shiny new crutches.

I looked down out of my euphoria to see I inadvertently stepped on them.

"Hey, watch it, Scroggs!"

It was Ben Hansen, a former three sport standout for the Tigers who graduated last spring. And he had a huge knee brace and a fresh-looking scar on his right knee.

Apparently, Hansen was all set to play football at Hancock College this fall but had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is sitting this semester out.

He said he hurt the knee last spring in a rec league soccer game. Now he's out for the next eight months and hoping to return to the team next season.

I'll wish him good luck regaining the speed and accelleration that made him such a threat for the Tigers in 2006. Thank goodness all I stepped on were his crutches.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bring on league play

I gleaned one big thing from Mission Prep's 28-20 win at Morro Bay over visiting Orange Cove.

Well... two things.

First, Orange Cove has no orange on its uniform or helmets. No orange. Orange Cove? What were they thinking.

Second, I can't wait for league play to start in the other big conferences around here.

I'm tired of seeing Paso Robles and Atascadero drop 40-point scores on non-league foes. I want to see a showdown between the Bearcats and the Greyhounds (who DO have orange in their uniforms... and gray. Or is it grey?)

I want to see if Arroyo Grande can turn it around in PAC 7 play when it really counts. I can't wait to see the Eagles take on San Luis Obispo, which seems to play everyone close.

Is Righetti for real? What about Templeton? Don't forget Morro Bay.

See, Mission Prep is almost halfway done with Central Sierra League play. It was fun watching two teams undefeated in league square off to get a leg up in the title race.

The Royals basked in the victory with shouts and cheers of "we're No. 1." Orange Cove coaches called for a round of post-game jumping jacks.

It makes me realize how ready I am for Los Padres League play to get into full swing — for the PAC 7 to start working itself out — for the stakes to raise.

Bring it on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

To Vic go the spoils

The results of this blog's first-ever poll are in, and Atascadero's Vic Cooper has won in a landslide plurality.

I put the question to you: Who's the best high school football coach in San Luis Obispo County? And out of the 134 votes tallied, Cooper (pictured right in a Tribune file photo by Joe johnston) came away with 44 — or 32 percent.

"I hope my better years are in front of me and not behind me," quipped Cooper, the only coach to tally more than 30 votes.

Technically, Cooper could have gone to 44 different computers and voted for himself every time, but that's probably not what happened seeing as how Cooper said he was skeptical of the poll and any deeper meaning revealed.

"There’s a lot of good coaches on the Central Coast," he said before giving compliments to San Luis Obispo's Craig Winninghoff (second with 29 percent) and Paso Robles' Rich Schimke (tied for fifth with 11 percent). "That’s a fairly nice honor ... Hopefully, that’s a good sign of having a good staff from top to bottom."

Morro Bay's John Andree took third with 27 votes (20 percent). Arroyo Grande's Tom Goossen (11 percent) was fourth, and the other coach tied for fifth was Mission Prep's Joe Silveira, a former longtime Coast Union coach.

If there was an option for a coach having the most success with the lowest enrollment, Templeton's Don Crow would have gotten more than the 11 votes, or 8 percent, that he got for coming into a tumultuous situation and churning out a playoff program every year.

Instead, Crow finished behind first-year Nipomo coach Russ Edwards (14 votes, 10 percent), a former San Luis Obispo assistant, and tied with Coast Union's Dave Clements, a second-year guy.

Kudos to all the coaches. These guys put in more work than most know, whether they're running eight-man programs or perennial powerhouses.

Check out the new poll, and if you have any suggestions for future questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All in good fun

Cheering at girls volleyball matches has become the hot new thing to do in the fall.

And the Arroyo Grande students have taken it to another level in the past few years.

They call themselves the Blue Zoo. Some of them dress up in costumes or face paint. Some of them dance. All of them scream.

"It's real exciting for the girls because the school and the student body make a big deal out of it," Eagles coach Ernie Santa Cruz said. "(The players) enoy it and they enjoy the guys in the Blue Zoo rooting for them. It's becoming a big thing at all the schools. The support is there, and it's kind of like the seventh man."

Mission Prep's Michaela Laird knew what the Royals were in for in Arroyo Grande's home opening 3-0 win Thursday.

"We knew that we needed to talk it up and talk loud," Laird said, "but we're working on it. Overall, I don't think we let the crowd affect us too much."

Somtime in the third game, when the Zoo had already unleashed a few rehearsed cheers and done the wave, a wayward spike from Mission Prep's Natalie Fernandez zipped in the direction of the boisterous section.

Was it just a slip? Or was she trying to shut them up a la "Varsity Blues"?

Since Fernandez left the gym before she could be interviewed, we may never know.

In her spot, I might have sent one at them. Look how annoying these guys are -- if you're on the other team. (If you're on their side, they're great.)

The Blue Zoo

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Conspicuously absent

EDIT: Chloe Redman is intending to play for Cuesta College in the spring. You can read the update on this story here.

Tennis talk might not make the numbers spike on the hit count-O-meter, but there was some off-court drama at Morro Bay High for the Pirates' match against visiting San Luis Obispo that just may.

The buzz surrounded Morro Bay standout Chloe Redman — now apparently a "former" Morro Bay standout.

Redman (pictured in a Tribune file photo by Joe Johnston) finished as the second best individual in the Los Padres League as a junior last season and led the Pirates into the CIF-Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals by winning five of six sets in two playoff rounds.

She was set to return as arguably the best senior in the county this fall but was nowhere to be seen Tuesday, and Morro Bay coach Karen Roth declined to comment, only saying Redman was no longer at the school.

The loss is a big hit for the Pirates on the tennis and basketball courts, where Redman was a key rebounder and defender for coach Cary Nerelli.

Rumors were flying as to where Redman went, why and how. But nothing was confirmed as of Tuesday night. Expect an update in the coming days.

Monday, September 10, 2007

We've got spirit

Yes, we do.

Paso Robles football

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Doom and gloom in Paso?

The Paso Robles High football team's big 52-0 win Friday over Santa Ynez was impressive to watch.

But if there's anyone out there who can find a puny storm cloud in big load of silver lining, it's a coach.

And the Bearcats' Rich Schimke is an experienced one at that.

"We got a long ways to go," he said after the game. "We made way too many mistakes. I know it sounds weird, but you watched the second half. You saw all the penalties out there. We have to maintain our discipline."

The Bearcats were called for 85 yards worth of penalties on nine flags, 10 if you count one that was declined by the Pirates.

"And the fumble down there in the red zone," Schimke said, "we can't have that."

Lots of times coaches will undersell their team or accomplishments because they don't want their high school athletes to get too full of themselves. Or they don't want to provide bulletin board material to another team.

That's why what media members refer to as "coach speak" is so boring to read, yet it's use is nearly universal.

But don't write off Schimke's comments as a simple attempt to be humble in the wake of a dominant win.

It's the second week in a row Paso Robles has been dogged by penalties and turnovers in at least one half. There will come a time when an opponent will have the talent and experience to be able to capitalize on some of those mistakes.

So the Bearcats will work on them. They should.

And they should also enjoy the win. There was more than enough to be proud about.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Climbing the ladder

The Arroyo Grande girls volleyball team's season has stalled in the CIF-Southern Section divisional quarterfinals each of the past six seasons.

The Eagles are hoping to end that streak this year by finally breaking into the final four. They've got the talent with PAC 7 MVP setter Olivia Trudeau and their top five hitters back, including senior Brooke Arnold (right *Tribune file photo by Jayson Mellom). But if they want to extend their year, they've got to get a better playoff seed.

One way to ensure that is to improve their ranking.

Not to slight San Luis Obispo and Nipomo, but wins over county rivals just aren't impressing the Southern Section poll gurus. Another undefeated romp through the PAC 7 isn't going to get Arroyo Grande much. The Eagles only got a No. 8 seed out of it in 2006.

What Arroyo Grande needs to do is play its best in two non-conference tournaments this month. Otherwise, the Eagles could end up with another tough seed against another of the heaviest hitters from the south.

Circle these dates if you're Arroyo Grande: This Saturday, the Eagles head to the San Luis Obispo High tournament; and September 29, they play against a field of mainly Ventura County teams at Royal High in Simi Valley.

These are the spots where Arroyo Grande can improve on the preseason No. 8 ranking assigned to them by the section.

Oh, and it seems you aren't the only one reading this blog. See below.

AG girls volleyball

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Read this blog... or else!

A shameless testimonial.

Brett Hiatt

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Friday, August 31, 2007

Out of the unknown

Coming into Friday's season-opening 42-22 win over Washington Union, the Atascadero High football team was a conundrum to a few of us prep sports experts at The Tribune.

Since becoming head coach, Vic Cooper seemed to have the program going in a great direction. All three levels of the program went 9-1 in the regular season in 2006. And the Greyhounds ran through the PAC 7 with little problem last year.

But by the same token, all of the most recognizable stars from last season's team had graduated. And unless you were camping with the team this summer or the biggest Atascadero freshman and junior varsity team fan, you had to wait until Friday's game to really have a good idea of what the new guys would do.

There were plenty of questions.

"I say every one of them got answered," said safety Jake Norlock, who also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown at running back. "We threw, we ran, we did everything that we wanted to do. Washington Union was a great test."

The team certainly looked impressive. But the Greyhounds didn't show much in the passing game. First-year starter Steven Manier passed for 65 yards on six of 10. Only two completions went to a wide receiver. Two went to tight end Jack Robinett. Three Atascadero completions were screens to running backs.

There might still be some uncertainties there but expect them to be concrete in the coming weeks as the Greyhounds take on No. 1-ranked CIF-Southern Section Northern Division power St. Bonaventure and No. 7 Thousand Oaks, the team that handed Atascadero its regular season losses at every level.

Against bigger and better teams, the Greyhounds might find themselves needing to pass more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cooper continued

Tribune file photo by David Middlecamp

Need another Vic Cooper fix? Here's all the background information we couldn't fit in Friday's story but that real Atascadero fans should know about their beloved football coach.

Vic Cooper is the oldest of three football-playing Coopers to put on pads at Atascadero and graduated in 1985.

Former coach Larry Welsh remembers him as a “quiet hero” who didn’t say much but got the job done. He imagined that’s how Cooper coaches, too. Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke, a 1981 Greyhounds grad, coached Cooper on the junior varsity level early in his career.

“He was a big hoss,” Schimke said, “a big tackle, very coachable, a student of the game. It’s kind of neat seeing him get into the teaching profession and coaching as well.”

Cooper’s parents were heavily involved in the booster club and, ultimately, their connection to Welsh was what got Cooper a job as a junior varsity assistant at his alma mater in 1988 while he attended Cuesta College.

When he transferred to Fresno State, he commuted back and forth from the Friday night football games to his early-morning Saturday job unloading trucks at a Fresno department store.

And after getting his bachelors, Cooper was the Greyhounds’ varsity offensive line coach from 1994 to 2002 and served as the offensive coordinator the year before he took over as head coach.

That should put Cooper's recent success in perspective. His ties to the community, knowledge of the tradition and passion for the school is a lot of the reason he has worked well with boosters, assistant coaches and players and turned the Greyhounds back into a winner.

“Coach pours his heart into football, and I really believe that he bleeds orange and sweats gray,” said Jake Norlock, a senior who’s moving from linebacker to safety this fall. “It’s really easy to play for a coach that puts that much of his heart into it.”

Football season kicks off tonight! Don't forget to vote in the new poll.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The ceremonial first blog.

It's official.

With Mission Prep's 20-6 win over Coast Sierra League rival Avenal on Friday, the 2007 fall season is off and running. And with the new season comes a second school year of blogs.

Royals junior quarterback Dylan Morrow got away without being interviewed after the game despite throwing for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns. After one game, he's on pace for more than 2,000 yards and 20 TDs.

But I saw him lingering in the stands while finishing up my story in the press box and decided to walk down and give him the opportunity to be the first athlete quoted in the new season of Bloggin' with Scroggin.

He started every game last season for the Royals. He's played on the baseball and basketball teams. He even played on the San Luis Obispo 16-and-under Babe Ruth All-Stars, a team we featured after it advanced to the World Series this summer.

And I'd never interviewed him. Chances are nobody had. I thought, "Morrow must have more pent up quotes than anybody on the team!" So I held my digital recorder up and gave him carte blanche.

"Uh, Mission rocks," he said.

Anything else?

"Nope, that's all."

And we're underway.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sights from the state meet

Couldn't make it to the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Sacramento? Here's the jist in a couple words: Hot and cold.

I was told it wasn't as hot as it's been in previous years, but it was still pretty scalding in the daytime.

I got called out in the press box for wearing my posh designer brand jeans in such sun block-worthy weather. But when events stretched past 10 p.m. for Friday's preliminaries, I got the last laugh when underdressed reporters went down to do late night interviews, shivering in their khaki shorts.

But here's a few other things you might have missed, even if you came.

Making the short trip up from Palo Alto, Stanford freshman Erin Delaney was there to cheer on former teammate Tom Nagengast. The former Bearcats girls shot put state champion said she hasn't transfered the success she had at the high school level over to college yet.

Delaney was a few centimeters away from advancing to the NCAA West Regional and didn't hit the same marks she did as a Paso Robles senior, but she took solace in taking the bottom spot on the all-time top-10 list of Cardinal throwers.

Sticking with the Paso-Robles and throwing-events vibe, Bearcats coach Bill Stansbury told me senior Greg Draper has committed to throw for Cal State Bakersfield next season.

Also slated to be a Roadrunner is state champion Derek Johnson of Agoura - who won the event Saturday with a throw of 203 feet, 6 inches and had two more over 195. So Draper should have a good throwing partner to work with.

Finally, there were two national records set at Saturday's meet. Taft's Jeshua Henderson won the boys 300-meter hurdles in 35.34, and Castilleja's Tori Anthony won the girls pole vault at 14-1.

Obviously, both marks also set new California and state meet records, but interestingly, Anthony eclipsed former Morro Bay and San Diego State vaulter Shayla Balentine's state meet record.

Balentine vaulted 13-8 in 2001, which was a national record at the time. Though two other California girls have beaten the mark since then, including Anthony's 13-10 earlier this season, none were at the state meet until Saturday.

Balentine is still the third best vaulter in state history, and former Atascadero standout Chelsea Johnson, whose best high school mark is 13-6, is sixth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I never said I wouldn't pander

Here's a tidbit for you San Luis Obispo High football folks.

In the background of the Tigers' CIF-Southern Section Division II semifinal boys tennis loss to Diamond Bar, the San Luis Obispo football team was beginning its second week of spring workouts.

It was hard not to keep my eyes on the court with some of the competitive play going on, so I only heard the football team counting out jumping jacks or something like that. So no scouting report.

But football conversation did wander over to the tennis courts eventually, and a few details leaked out. In the race to replace departed senior Conner Reese, a school record-holder in multiple passing categories, there is a good, old-fashioned quarterback controversey.

Sources close to the team say it's neck and neck between incoming senior Jake Miller, who backed up Reese last season and racked up 67 tackles and three interceptions from his safety spot, and junior David Schultz, who battted .378 in 74 at-bats on the baseball team this spring.

Neither has too much of a size advantage. According to MaxPreps.com, Schultz is 6 feet, 1 inch and 170 pounds. Miller, who played half of last season after a blow to the throat left him with a vocal chord injury, measured 6-1, 173 in the fall.

Miller completed two of three passes behind Reese for 15 yards and a touchdown, a 10-yard strike to fullback Mac Sutcliffe in a 43-10 blowout of San Marcos. Schultz, who played junior varsity football in the fall, kept his arm in shape this spring by going 2-1 on the mound for the Tigers. His 3.98 ERA was third on the team.

Whichever quarterback wins the job, he'll have huge shoes to fill and high expectations. The Tigers return the best group of All-County players next season and no doubt look to compete for the PAC 7 title again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pick your playoff run

Two fantastic runs to the quarterfinals. But what if there could be only one?

The Arroyo Grande boys basketball team went from wild card to CIF-Southern Section Division II title contender with three straight upsets before falling in the quarters this past winter.

And Tuesday, the Eagles boys volleyball team gained entry into the round of eight for the first time in school history by beating Santa Ynez in convincing fashion after a first-round romp and a PAC 7 championship regular season.

Which one is more special? Which will be more memorable? Normally, those questions might not be very relevant, but two of the team's key players in the runs for each team are two in the same.

Seniors Daniel Wrage and James Tringham came up big in both sports. Which one would they choose?

Wrage honestly ranked the basketball run as his best memory. The team won on some of his own late-game heroics. And the underdog story of a fifth-place team that squeaked into the playoffs with an at-large bid was dangerously close to becoming an instant legend.

Without picking a preference, Tringham felt special being a part of Arroyo Grande boys volleyball's deepest playoff run to date. The Eagles beat San Luis Obispo in six of the eight games between the two teams. Now everything they do is setting a new program standard.

"We had a good year, we won league and now we're in the playoffs," Tringham said. "I don't want to say this is expected, but this is fun."

I was ready to give my own judgement and tell everyone which playoff run is more important to the school and the respective sports in the long run, but, as Wrage reminded me, volleyball isn't finished yet.

I'll hold off on a decision before seeing what Arroyo Grande can do against Santa Barbara on Friday. But that doesn't mean you have to.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Untold tales of sportsmanship

Midway through San Luis Obispo High's tennis match with visiting Burroughs-Burbank in the first round of CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs Thursday, I had a chat with Burroughs coach Roy Bernhardt.

His team hadn't been in the playoffs since 1993, and as a warmup question, I asked him what he thought of the Tigers — the cream of the team crop here in our area.

The question wasn't hard-hitting enough to beat an egg, I know, but I was feeling him out. San Luis Obispo, which won 12-6, was dominating, and hey, you are reading a blog about it.

The first thing he complimented the Tigers on was their conduct. They all were true sportsmen, he said. It was relevant considering that certain nameless players were flinging rackets and water bottles in losing frustration.

Here's my comment. I wish I'd said it to him. Winning a game or match going away isn't a true test of sportsmanship.

I've gotta say it's pretty easy to deal with winning, especially when it's by a lot. Winning with class does take some effort, but your level of sportsmanship truly shows when you have to deal with adversity — a blown call, some bad luck or a hostile crowd.

Paso Robles softball pitcher Michelle Moses gave up the first ever home run at San Luis Obispo's softball diamond, and it cost the Bearcats the game and the chance to be all alone in first place in the PAC 7 a couple weeks ago.

Choking back some emotion, she actually did an interview with me after the game and thanked me for coming. A lesser sportsman might have told me to buzz off.

After being eliminated from playoff contention in a blowout loss to Atascadero this week, Arroyo Grande baseball catcher Lucas Kephart saw me walking by and flashed me a big smile.

I'd seen it before. It was the same one I got after two games where I watched him homer earlier in the season. It's the same one I'll see next time, too, whether he pops up or strikes out.

At the PAC 7 track finals last week, Eagles sprinter Stephanie Micheli thought she finally had rival Tonie Williams of San Luis Obispo in the 200-meter dash. But Micheli lost by .01 seconds, lost her balance through the finish line and lost sizeable chunks of cheek and shoulder skin on the track.

Not only did she come back for her next race a few minutes later, but she talked to me, gave kudos to Williams and vowed to beat her with a renewed determination.

These kids weren't happy with losing. Nobody really is. But they had untold stories where they handled it with grace.

Tigers tennis handled winning just fine. Will they do the same while losing? Only a runaway section title would mean they wouldn't get the chance.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fist fights and running spikes

What makes you want to order the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight?

Maybe you order it. Maybe you don't. Maybe you're like a lot of people and you just think about it. But why?

Because they hate each other. Or they say they do. There's actual, publicized dislike between the two.

OK, that's enough free publicity for De La Hoya-Mayweather.

The front page of the dyestatcal.com Web site, the state's leading source for high school track and field information (it deserves the publicity), highlighted a figurative fight of its own this week.

In between photos of nationally reknowned Mission Prep sophomore Jordan Hasay and Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills senior Alex Kosinski, who will face off in the 1,600-meter race at Saturday's Sacramento Meet of Champions, was a graphic of a pair of boxing gloves.

The race is a high-profile showdown, and dyestatcal.com did well to promote it, but here's what I know from my expereince: Runners don't seem to hate each other in that way.

In the past, Hasay's only had the nicest things to say about her competitors.

Don't get me wrong, she wants to win perhaps more than anybody I've ever met. Try conducting an interview with Hasay after suggeting there might be the slightest outside chance that one out of 1 billion people thinks she might not win a race. Her past history, including state and national titles, commands ultimate respect.

But it's not like she wants to eat anyone's kids or gets into fistfights on the podium. It's not like she's likely to get intentionally tripped by a rival on the way to the finish line.

The race previews read about how one runner is close in time to another. They're not about how A-Rod charged the mound against Schilling. Or how T.O. spit in someone's face.

When runners don't win, they're more likely to blame themselves than point the finger at an opponent or an official.

High school runners don't hate each other. Nor should they. But that's also why it's not on pay-per-view.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SLO High Football


This blog has little to do with my thoughts on San Luis Obispo High football, per se. But just go with it.

I noticed that a previous blog got pirated off course by a couple of posters who saw an opening to bring up Tigers football. It seriously seems like that's all anyone is interested in.

And since I just came off a meeting with The Tribune's Managing Editor Tad Weber today where we talked about ways to make the blog a little more fresh, I figure put "SLO High Football" in the headline — and KABOOM — the hit count numbers will soar off the charts.

And that's exactly what I want to blog about: football versus spring sports.

I know football is king, not just locally, but nationally. Basketball and hockey playoffs have begun, baseball is back in full swing, but all anyone wants to talk about is NFL Draft.

I try to write a thoughtful blog on the Tigers boys volleyball program and the only two comments are about a prep football season that's four months away.

Incidentally, those were my first two comments since March. So either I'm really boring or spring sports are. Which is it? (After speaking at C.L. Smith Elementary in February, the fourth grade class will tell you it's me. So don't ask any of them.)

I'm not buying the idea that more kids play football, therefore more parents are interested. Talk to Jordan Hasay's dad, Joe. He'll tell you that track and field's numbers dwarf those of baseball. I'd bet they're pretty close to football, too. And have you checked out a track and field story recently? Many of the stars are the same boys who played football.

So what's the deal? Should I just change this blog to an all-football-all-the-time experience?

OK, I'm not asking that seriously, but here is a topic to discus: Why doesn't anyone seem to care much about spring sports?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Height helps in diving, or so it appears

Elizabeth Foran, Atascadero High's dynamic diver and the current Tribune Prep Athlete of the Week, talked this week about the toughest aspect of diving.

It wasn't the high dive or the cold wind, though those topics made it into the Prep Athlete of the Week story, but the subjective scoring system.

"The hardest thing about diving is how I do is really in somebody else’s hands," Foran said. "When I go out there, I have five judges giving me scores on what they think I did.

"It’s so hard because you have to please those judges."

I didn't tell her that in baseball you have people judging whether you got a hit or an error because, heck, she was on a roll. Journalism tip: Don't interrupt a teenager who's best quotes don't include "dude," "like" or "uhm."

And apparently, it isn't aways technique that pleases those dastardly judges, whomever they are. Common notion has judges liking taller divers, Foran said.

Foran, who's only 5-feet tall, said she has an advantage over longer opponents because she can "flip easier, flip faster and do more flips." She does have less body to flip.

But ...

"If you’re tall and long your dive looks cleaner," Foran said. "I can go out and do a dive and a tall girl can do the same dive, just not as good, but it’ll look better. When a girl is long, it just looks like she’s going in straighter and it just looks prettier, and it almost looks harder because she has just that much more to throw around."

She wasn't complaining about it. I just found the height topic intersting and continued asking about it.

It's not a foreign concept. I've heard similar things about equestrian judges when I covered the sport in college. They favor taller riders because they look more graceful or something to that effect. They probably like taller horses, too. It might up the degree of difficulty.

(Note to self: I wonder if the sports writer awards favor taller reporters. Remember to add "6 feet, 3 inches" under my byline.)

So yeah, judges, come off it. Stop the discrimination already. Foran, other diminutive divers and equestrians everywhere deserve equality.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What'll they do on senior ditch day?

Ready for a shocker? The San Luis Obispo boys volleyball team fields 12 seniors. Twelve!

Are your socks still on? Well, let me put it this way. Twelve 12th-graders are enough to field two separate lineups of seniors.

And it really gets put into perspective when written like this: With 15 players total, only a maximum of three will be returning next season — as long as none decides to go pro.

That “go pro” line would have been a joke if hadn’t already happened.

Would-be sophomore Hawk Hatcher isn’t back with the team after a standout freshman season last year. Word is he’s breaking into the pro beach volleyball circuit, but that’s for another blog.

Back to the seniors.

Imagine you’re a high school coach. (Maybe you ARE a high school coach. I wish I knew who read this stuff.) Now imagine replacing 80 percent of your team in one offseason.

Not just the starters, 80 percent of the whole team.

Sock check.

And it’s not as if high school athletics actually puts a premium on returning players or anything. Well actually, that’s exactly how it is.

Here’s a behind the scenes tidbit: I voted the Atascadero High football team No. 1 in every one of the Tribune’s Top 10 media polls this past season — from week 0 to week 10 — because, by my count, the Greyhounds had the most number of All-County players returning.

No, I’m not an A-town homer. Before moving to the Central Coast in February 2006, I’d only driven through SLO County a few times. I knew nothing about high school football tradition around here.

But who dominated the area? Atascadero. And it might have been because they had a lot of returning seniors.

So when I called San Luis Obispo volleyball coach Jon Hastings about naming his dominant hitter Curtis Abram the Athlete of the Week a couple weeks ago and found out he was losing all those seniors, I had to at least jokingly ask.

“Are you going to retire after this one, coach?”

He denied it. Laughed about it. Maybe thought about it?

Nah, and here’s why.

Two of those three players set to return are sophomores Julian Demalleville, a mini version of Abram, and 6-foot, 6-inch Shane Kennedy, tabbed a college volleyball prospect in the Tigers’ official program.

I’d like to see what the unofficial program says about him, but in a 3-0 win over Righetti Wednesday, Kennedy looked pretty good. He had a season-high seven kills. And Demalleville’s consistently been one of the team’s top three hitters all season.

San Luis Obispo looks like it’s on track to win its seventh straight league title, if it can get past Arroyo Grande on Tuesday and run the table.

The Tigers might have an uphill battle if they get a chance to go for No. 8, but all things 12 considered, it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Remember the time?

With a thrilling back and forth win in the Softball by the Beach Invitational, the Arroyo Grande softball team vaulted itself into the semifinal of the 13th annual edition of the tournament.

One of the questions I asked first-year coach Amber Derbidge after the game was asking for the last time an Eagles team won the tournament, to which she didn't have an answer.

But first-year coaches get occasional reprieves for this type of stuff, especially immediately after artery-stopping games like Friday's.

So I bring the question to you. When was the last time an Eagles softball team won it's own tournament? Has it ever?

I presented a similar question in an Arroyo Grande football story last season when Reade Lobdill ran for a ton of yards and nobody could remember the last time it had happened right after the game.

A couple of dilligent parents e-mailed in the next day with the appropriate answer. So get to it softball parents. Don't tell me the football moms are better historians than you are.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The cold capital of the universe

I'm not a San Luis Obispo County native, so stop me if I'm wrong, but is Sinsheimer Park not the coldest pocket of the Central Coast?

It's like a bermuda triangle of weather — where cold gets lost and can't find it's way out.

No matter if it's baseball, swimming or water polo. At every high school event I've covered at Sinsheimer, I've had a tough time deciding whether to cover the event or go into hibernation.

In addition to the pool and baseball stadium, there are also softball diamonds and a playground on the premesis. But if I had kids, I wouldn't let them play at Sinsheimer alone for fear the fog would roll in and carry them away.

The weather is generally great in San Luis Obispo, which is why I'm baffled by this entire phenomenon. No joke, It's even colder than Templeton's football stadium.

Is there some scientific explanation for this out there? Anybody got any theories? It's not like it's keeping me away from any good action, but I know when I'm headed there to break out the knit cap, jacket and homemade quilt.

Now you do, too.

Quarterback controversy

Looking ahead to this past fall's Atascadero-San Luis Obispo High football game, I billed it as a matchup of clashing quarterback styles in the newspaper preview.

Gunnar Jespersen versus Conner Reese. Machismo versus mechanics.

Though the Tigers' Reese put up big numbers in the game, Jespersen led his team to the win.

Well, the two met up again Friday — this time on the diamond.

With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, the three-game series up for grabs and runners on first and second with no outs, San Luis Obispo brought in Reese to pitch out of a jam. He loaded the bases on a fielder's choice and guess who came up to bat?

Now there doesn't seem to be any personal rivalry between the two. They seem to have a mutual respect, zero animosity. Reese even looked puzzled when I shot him a comment about the moment after the game.

But come on — doesn't it sound juicy?

Senior quarterback versus senior quarterback, one more round for old time's sake.

After a first-pitch ball, Jespersen came up hacking, looking to make the big swing that would bury the Tigers. But Reese threw the next two pitches for strikes.

Jespersen fanned on the fourth offering, an outside pitch that sent him back to the dugout after swinging his bat in frustration.

So what does this all mean?

Nothing. It's baseball. Hitters get out seven out of 10 times and go to the hall of fame. But maybe next time Jespersen and Reese can face off in checkers — or armwrestling. I'd show up to watch them play Mille Bourne cards.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hard times in softball

You know how when you get older and you try to do the same kinds of athletic things you did when you were young?

Whether it's pickup basketball or some slow-pitch softball, you feel great while you're reliving the glory days, but the next morning, you ache in spots you never even knew had nerve endings.

My bet: Arroyo Grande High softball pitcher Chelsie Rodriguez is probably getting a good preview of what that's going to feel like right now.

In Thursday's 4-3 loss to Atascadero, Rodriguez got off to a roug start. She gave up a leadoff double and a bunt single to the first two batters she faced.

The Greyhounds' Brianna Smet drove in the two runners with a frozen rope — that lined right into Rodriguez's left hip and dribbled into right field.

She shrugged off any attention from the trainers, remained in the game and allowed just one hit to the next 19 batters she faced.

"It did hurt," Rodriguez said. "But I was so upset I didn't make the play that I didn't even notice it."

No, people, softballs really aren't all that soft. And maybe I'm just getting old, but I think she'll feel it in the morning.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The track and field diaries

In a recent interview about trade secrets, Templeton High runner Garrett Cowan let me completely inside the mind of a distance runner.

Cowan wasn't shy about giving away some of his best race strategies, adding that runners are normally so paranoid about what other runners say and do, they probably wouldn't take his advice anyway.

One of the most unexpected quips Cowan got off was about how he sizes up the field pre-race. In a 2-mile race, Cowan likes to stick with the runner who starts out fastest and overtake him somewhere near the end of the final lap.

One of the keys to that strategy is trying to determine who the fast starter will be before the gun sounds. Cowan says he's guessing right 80 percent of the time. Here's one of his tipoffs.

"If you look at the guy in the line that has shaved legs," Cowan said, "you can tell he's taking it very serious. He thinks he's the best runner, and he's going to go out really fast."

Apparently, there's a myth out there that shaved legs make you faster. Cowan said some runners shave just to intimidate the other competitors.

I think the same might be true for rush-hour traffic. That might explain why I always see so many female passengers in shorts with their bare feet up on the dashboard.

Well, let me tell you ladies, neither Garrett Cowan nor I will be intimidated!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Any scouts out there?

OK, I need some help.

Since we just wrapped up prep basketball coverage last week and I spent most of the past week in the office doing office things, I can't wait to get back out and start covering some baseball and softball games.

Track, tennis, swimming and golf are good, too. But since baseball and softball previews appeared this week in The Tribune, the question is timely...

Who are the best baseball and softball teams in the county right now? I haven't seen enough of them to guess. So I'm asking you.

Can San Luis Obispo baseball and new coach Casey Candale recover from the loss of six All-County starters and get back in contention? Can Templeton softball keep it rolling in the Southern Section? What about Atascadero? Nipomo? Arroyo Grande?

Before I get out there and really start digging in, handicap the teams for me. Who should I watch out for?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Simko's anonymous savior

In Thursday's edition of The Tribune, read about Todd Simko, the Arroyo Grande High baseball player who suffered a broken neck and a crushed throwing hand in a devastating car crash.

In less than a year, Simko is back on the field for the Eagles — and getting significant playing time.

As is the case with a lot of lengthy newspaper stories, some additional info was left out. It happens. Here's where I can go back and share some more.

Todd and friend Sean Simpson were speeding on Corbett Canyon Road when the car Todd was driving flipped and crashed, trapping his arm under the wreckage.

Here's the part that didn't get into the paper, and where you blog readers may be able to help.

An off-duty emergency doctor was riding a bicycle when he came upon the wreck and prevented Todd from being moved — an eventual life-saving move considering doctors later told Todd he might have been paralyzed or killed had his neck shifted a minimum of two millimeters.

"He kind of took control of the situation," Todd said. "(Other witnesses) were afraid that the car was going to explode and be caught in the fire."

The Simkos were very thankful of the off-duty doctor and his efforts to protect Todd. Only one problem: They couldn't thank him in person.

None of the Simkos were at the wreck site and amidst a cataclysmic family tragedy, it's kind of hard to follow up on everything. So the doctor's identity remains a mystery.

"I don't know what his name is actually," Todd's mom, Linda, said when asked for it. "He was an angel in disguise, which is basically what I call him."

So, if you know this doctor — or are this doctor — leave a message. I'm sure the Simkos would be grateful. (And I'll be glad to know the blog is reaching the medical community. Maybe it'll get me a better co-pay next time I have doctor's appointment.)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Who's your Player of the Year?

One of the most stressful assignments I have in any given year is picking a Player of the Year and accompanying All-County team for any given sport.

The biggest debate between players often is this: Statistics versus success.

Let's take County Player of the Year for example. In general, there are two types of candidates. The best player on the best team. Or the player with the most impressive stats.

It makes my job easier if those candidates are the same person. Think Derrick Jasper in '05 and '06 and Hannah Donaghe this past season.

But when those people aren't one in the same, The Tribune (me in this case) has to make a subjective choice. I know what my criteria is. What I'd like to know is yours. The Readers. San Luis Obispo County.

We're talking about your players of the year here. Who would you like to see represent you for all eternity?

The most valuable player of the team with the best record? Or an impressive stat compiler from a less decorated team?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Keeping cool after tough loss

Terrance Harris had a right to be really upset Wednesday night. But he wasn't.

Well, I wasn't with the Mission Prep boys basketball coach all night. Maybe he went home after the Royals were upset 64-62 by Bakersfield Christian in the semifinals of the CIF-Central Section Division V playoffs and broke a stack of concrete blocks with a head butt like those karate guys on TV.

But whatever frustrations Harris might have had after a loss that, let's be honest, nobody saw coming — he kept them inside.

Seconds after the final buzzer sounded and the Royals had ended their first post-Tom-Mott-era playoff run with a disappointing loss, Harris calmly walked over and did a radio interview. Then he talked to me (which, I admit, isn't always THAT fun.)

In journalism school, at least mine, they tell you to give coaches and players a 10-minute period to get over the game. But Harris took no cool down time, no time to gather his emotions. Just, hey, let's do this. And it was a classy and respectable thing to do.

Mission Prep lost. And it was a bad loss. One they should have won had they come out a little more focused. Plus, the Royals were getting handcuffed by the referees.

I've seen plenty of other coaches from high school to college turn around after a game like that and blast the officiating, completely duck interviews or fire off "no comments."

Publicly, Harris stood tall, was accountable and made no excuses. That attitude was certainly refreshing.

If you see him around town with a Band-Aid on his head, though, give my condolences to the concrete blocks.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The third season

Sometimes people call the playoffs "the second season." It's a valid metaphor. Ask the Arroyo Grande High boys basketball team.

The Eagles took fifth place in the regular season and lost to rival Nipomo three times. But in the second season, the playoffs, they captured the imagination of central coast basketball fans.

Arroyo Grande's venture deep into the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division II-A playoffs had us all wondering wether an unseeded wild-card team could actually win a section title.

The second season. It's like "wait 'til next year" — just without all the waiting.

But Tuesday night marked the beginning of what I'm starting to call the third season.

That's when all of the bigger schools in the county have all been eliminated from the playoffs and small schools like Mission Prep and Coast Union start getting all the front page attention.

They're accustomed to it. The Mission Prep boys and girls are favored to win section titles. The girls are going for No. 15 in a row. For the boys, it would be No. 4, but the past two were stripped in a recruiting scandal. (TO disgruntled Royals fans: New Times used the 'S' word. I should at least get one freebie.)

The Royals girls have already cemented a spot in the state playoffs. Coast Union nearly joined them before being tripped up at home Tuesday. The Mission Prep boys can clinch an appearance with a win tonight.

This third season could potentially go on for another week or two. So get ready for some more "Royals Flush" and "Mission Accomplished" headlines.