Nicholas Mattson/Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press
Atascadero Youth Football League Junior running back Tyler Bukamier runs for first touchdown of high scoring game on Saturday at Paso Robles High School.
Atascadero and Paso Robles Youth Football teams preview future battles
PASO ROBLES — The Bearcats and Greyhounds faced off on Saturday with a Central Coast Youth Football League duel between Paso Robles YFL and Atascadero YFL Juniors teams, and it was a high-scoring battle.
In the end, Paso Robles took a 40-33 win against Atascadero, but it was not a total loss for the Greyhounds.
“They stepped up big time,” AYFL Juniors coach Matt Muller said of his team. “We have been pushing on discipline and hard work. To work hard on everything in life, and step up and don’t quit.”
Atascadero received the first kickoff, and marched downfield for the opening-drive score. Running back Tyler Bukamier powered through traffic, and helped keep the ball moving for the Greyhounds.
AYFL Juniors quarterback Jerom Damery busted through the line on a keeper, behind lead blocking by center Jackson Cooper, and sped through the Bearcats’ secondary for a big gain, breaking open-field tackles before he was finally dragged down by No. 53 and No. 1 at the Bearcats’ 19-yard line.
The Greyhounds called Damery’s number again, and the first-year quarterback went tearing up the middle of the field, behind strong blocking by the offensive line, near a first down at the 10-yard line.
Bukamier took the handoff and broke through the line for the first down, and Atascadero had first and goal from the 7-yard line. Damery kept on the next play for a few yards, and Bukamier ran the ball in on second down for the first score of the game.
Paso Robles stopped the extra point attempt at the goal line, and Atascadero took a short-lived 6-0 lead.
On the subsequent kickoff, the Bearcats’ Joseph Petrillo picked up a short kick and blew through the special teams defense and sprinted to the house for the score. Paso Robles scored on the extra point to take a 7-6 lead.
“That run back was a big eye opener,” Muller said. “The boys noticed they can score, but then Paso Robles ran back on them.”
The looming question for Atascadero was whether it was ready to withstand the blow, and recover for another scoring campaign.
A short kick by Paso Robles gave Atascadero great field position, and the Greyhounds put the ball back in the hands of Bukamier.
Bukamier took the handoff from Damery, and charged behind the blocking of Cooper and Borunda for a 52-yard run to the house. Bukamier broke two open-field tackles in the middle of the field to clear the defense and outraced the chasing Bearcats to the end zone.
No. 33 ran the ball in for the extra point, and Atascadero jumped back on top with a 13-7 lead.
Atascadero cleaned up its faults on the kickoff defense, and Bukamier pulled down Petrillo around the 50-yard line.
A pass from Bearcats’ quarterback Caleb Powell to Isaiah Williams put the Bearcats within a yard of the first down, with third and 1 on the 46-yard line.
Atascadero’s defense stood them up on third down to force a fourth down. Then the Greyhounds did it again to lock the Bearcats down for a turnover on downs.
“We have been really pushing hard to hold your positions and play your zone,” Muller said. “We have been pushing courage. The kids at this age play well, but have a hard time with confidence. No matter how big the other team is, you can play them and hold them.”
Riding a wave of momentum, the Greyhounds drove for the score, and took a 20-6 lead with less than 5:00 left in the first half.
Paso Robles answered, and jumped back within a score with a touchdown pass to Williams, pulling back within 20-13.
In the third quarter, the Greyhounds did not come out with their first-half fire, and it cost them.
By the middle of the third quarter, the Bearcats were within a point, 20-19, of the Greyhounds, and had also grabbed the momentum.
“We had that issue in the past, where things were going good and they lightened up,” Muller said. “They lightened up after the half and that is where we lost it.”
The battle between 9- and 10-year olds promises another chapter in a long-lived rivalry that will last through the next decade.
“They did well, and we are really proud of them,” Muller said. “We have been working on that discipline and confidence. They have it, and it is just a matter of them applying it.”
Saturday’s battle went to Paso Robles, with a 40-33 victory for the Bearcats over the Greyhounds.
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