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.