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.

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