The Bearcats are moving the needle, and after a 1-4 start to a season rocked with controversy and coaching changes, the varsity football team is putting the Atascadero Greyhounds in their crosshairs with the PAC 5 League title on the line on Friday, Nov. 3 at home under the War Memorial Stadium lights.
The Bearcats are making a run for an undefeated title since taking care of business against the Righetti Warriors — the Greyhounds will look to scratch the first “L” of the regular season onto the ‘Cats’ record. As always, the Bearcats and Greyhounds will drag it out for bragging rights and a mark on the all-time record — expect the unexpected under the Friday night lights.
“If you can’t get up to play that game, there is something wrong with you,” PRHS head coach J.R. Reynolds said. “It’s a game where records go out the window, it doesn’t matter. It is that rivalry game that you are going to get something out of them.”
Last year, the Bearcats broke a three-year losing streak against Atascadero with a definitive, 45-25, win on the Greyhounds’ turf. The win was a bit sweeter than usual. Interim head coach Matt Carroll wore the head coach’s headset and called the shots from the helm with long-time head coach Rich Schimke sitting in the stands of his alma mater, watching his Bearcats take the field without him.
Coaching strife bled into the 2017 season, and an early resignation by Larry Grant left the Bearcats again embroiled in questions and controversy, and Reynolds stepped in as interim head coach.
Challenged with internal questions about the direction of the season, the players took the field against McClymonds, Cajon, Clovis North, and Sierra Canyon high schools digging their toes into the turf, looking for more than just a foothold for a single down.
“The whole goal after the coaching change was to get them going in the right direction,” Reynolds said. “We made some changes offensively and defensively. What we preached and talked about with the kids is we wanted to be hitting our stride when we played AG.”
Snap after snap, the Bearcats turned toward the PAC 5 and entered league play with a boom — dominating defending league champion Arroyo Grande with a 28-7 victory. One down, three to go.
“They are a resilient bunch of kids, no other way to say it,” Reynolds said. “They practice hard and play hard. They come together as a group and play for each other. We preach play for each other and play for the community, not who the coach is.”
Game two was a given, with a trip to San Luis Obispo for a whooping on the Tigers — who have not won a league contest since October 2013.
“The kids took [the challenges] in stride and the idea was lets go out and win league,” Reynolds said. “The kids bought into it and trusted the process of what we were doing. By the time we hit AG, we were ready.”
The game with Righetti was a test of the Bearcats. Righetti entered the game on Friday, Oct. 27 with two league wins, and taking down Paso Robles would put them at the top of the heap with a shot at the PAC 5 title. The Bearcats successfully defended War Memorial Stadium, and now hold sole possession of first place — with only the Greyhounds in the way.
Bearcats vs. Greyhounds, #90
The greatest sports rivalry on the Central Coast is getting ready for kickoff, with the Bearcats hosting the Greyhounds on Friday, Nov. 3 in the 90th meeting between the two. Since 1920, when Atascadero fielded its first team and was dismissed to the tune of 119-0 by the big brother Bearcats, the annual game between the dueling secondary schools has been the most important sporting event of the year … unless they met in CIF.
In 89 meetings so far, the Bearcats lead the series 55-31-2, and recorded the first seven wins between the two. The series has run in streaks, with seven winning streaks between the two teams of three or more, and the Bearcats hold a record 18-straight wins, and won 25 of the first 29 games. Adding another will be a test for Friday night.
“That night we are playing to be the undisputed league champs,” Reynolds said. “We are excited for the game. Any time you are playing Atascadero it is a packed house. There is nothing like playing Atascadero at home, with the stadium seats sitting right on top of you.”
On Friday, Nov. 3, the Bearcats will be looking for your support as they take the field at home for the final game of the regular season.
The junior varsity kicks off at 4 p.m., and varsity begins at 7 p.m. The frosh team travels to Atascadero on Thursday, Nov. 2 for a final game of the season, kicking off at 5 p.m.