The Bearcats (13-1) are taking on El Capitan of Lakeside (13-0) on Saturday Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable throughout Southern California. For more on El Capitan, CLICK HERE.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach: Rich Schimke (16th season, 124-62-1 overall)
Section: The Bearcats won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship, 13-10, over Newbury Park.
League: Finished in a three-way tie for first in the Pac-5 League (3-1) with Arroyo Grande and Altascadero.
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: Not ranked
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 2 (Division III South)
CIF Bowl History: Paso Robles is playing in its first CIF Bowl game.
Best Win: Paso’s best win on the season had to have been the one to get them in to the Division III Regional Bowl game. The Bearcats were trailing a talented Newbury Park team in a rain-soaked game after three quarters, 10-7. Paso scored six in the fourth and shut out Newbury Park in the final period to take the 13-10 victory despite fumbling nine times and losing three of those fumbles.
Key Players: QB Justin Davis (5-11, 180, Jr.), RB Christian Erickson (5-11, 220, Soph.), RB Robert Mares (5-10, 165, Jr.), WR Bailey Gaither (6-1, 172, Sr.), TE Josh Oliver (6-5, 225, Sr., Verbal to San Jose State), OLB Jonathan Baldwin (6-3, 230, Sr.), CB Trevor Torres (5-7, 145, Sr.), S Parker Gray (6-0, 180, Sr.), CB Cooper Silva (5-6, 170, Sr.), DE Michael Horne (5-10, 215, Sr.), NG Jacob Stanko (5-10, 250, Jr.).
General Offense: Paso Robles can flip between a number of different looks. The Bearcats have used the I-back, 3-back, traditional pro-style, and two tight end sets this season. Schimke said it all depends on the situation. A dynamic duo of underclassmen are the key to the Paso Robles offense. Pocket-passing junior quarterback Justin Davis is completing throws at a 65.8 percent clip (154-for-234) for 2,502 yards with 31 TDs to just eight interceptions. Christian Erickson, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound sophomore, has rumbled his way to 1,377 yards and 16 touchdowns on 194 carries, but has been out since an October 31 win over Righetti. Erickson had recorded eight games of at least 100-yards rushing and had a 153-yard per game average prior to the injury and is considered questionable for Saturday’s game; junior Robert Mares has taken over the majority of the carries in Erickson’s absence. Senior wide receiver Bailey Gaither is the main target in the passing game for Paso Robles. Gaither has 69 catches for 1453 yards and 20 touchdowns.
General Defense: The base formation for Paso Robles is 3-5-3 with the line anchored by defensive end Michael Horne and nose guard Jacob Stanko. The Bearcats will take some chances in the secondary, as evidenced by 20 interceptions as a team on the season. Eleven different players have picked off an opposing quarterback at least once for Paso Robles, led by safety Parker Gray, outside linebacker Jonathan Baldwin and corner back Trevor Torres – each of whom have three interceptions on the year. Cooper Silva, another Bearcats’ corner, has two picks on the season. Outside linebacker Josh Oliver and safety Ty Jones also have two interceptions apiece. Paso is not a blitz-happy defense and tends to stay at home, relying on its front-three to pressure the QB.
Key Injuries: Christian Erickson, the team’s leading rusher, last played in a 40-12 win over Righetti on October 31. He has been nursing a right foot injury and is questionable for Saturday’s game.
The Skinny: It’s simple, right? Paso will have to keep the El Capitan duo of quarterback Brad Cagle and running back D.J. Smith in check to pull out a win here. El Capitan is putting up 37.7 points per game on the season, so adding on to those 20 interceptions on the season will be a key point for Paso Robles.
Devin Ugland covers USC men’s basketball and football for TrojanSports.com. He has previously written for the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Daily Pilot. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.