The Atascadero Greyhounds defeated Pioneer Valley Friday night to secure the CIF Central Section Championship in Division Five, winning 27-13.
"It's been a long time coming," said Atascadero Head Coach Vic Cooper. "I don't think the average person realizes the amount of time that these kids put in. It's not a three-month or four-month sport, it's year-round."
The Greyhounds have won their first CIF championship since 1996.
The journey to the title certainly wasn't easy for Atascadero as Pioneer Valley opened the game by forcing two turnovers and cashing in on two rushing touchdowns by Anthony Arias to put them ahead 13-0, despite allowing a blocked extra point.
The Greyhounds responded in the 2nd quarter as Kane Cooks found Kaleb Pryor for a 41-yard touchdown pass, making it a 13-6 game after a blocked extra point.
Following a fumble recovery to open the second half, Kane Cooks scored a rushing touchdown to knot the game up at 13.
Pioneer Valley responded by marching down the field, only to have a field goal attempt that would put them ahead in the game blocked by Jarom Damery, making it his second block of the evening to keep the game tied.
After a late 3rd quarter scramble to put Atascadero in enemy territory, Kane Cooks opened the 4th quarter with a one-yard touchdown rush to put the Greyhounds ahead, 20-13.
Pioneer Valley and Atascadero would trade fumbles late in the ballgame, leading the Panthers to make one final attempt at driving down the field with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
An incomplete pass on fourth down by Pioneer Valley turned the ball over on downs, leading to the final exclamation point to cap the Greyhounds win.
Trey Cooks, brother of Kane Cooks, rushed for a touchdown to put the game on ice and solidifying the championship for the Greyhounds.
"So much work has been put into it and it makes it so special," said Cooper.
With the win, the Greyhounds improve to 9-4 and will be off to play in the state playoffs next week.
The Panthers close their season with a 7-7 overall record.