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 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

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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

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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

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