There was no score. Most players wore their program's jerseys from years past while others wore a different number from the one they'll have this season. There was no time kept.

Still, it was football.

St. Joseph hosted San Luis Obispo in a scrimmage Friday night and it was full of action, though neither team won.

Each team scrimmaged on special teams, as the event started with field goal tries from various distances. San Luis Obispo's offense then took the field against St. Joseph's defensive starters for a series of about 10 plays. Then St. Joseph's offensive starters took over against SLO's defense.

It was the St. Joseph debut for quarterback Chase Artopoeus, who did his part, putting the ball in the hands of his playmakers. 

San Luis Obispo, though, more than held its own.

On one of the scrimmage's first plays, Jeremy Fitzsimmons broke off a long touchdown run of more than 60 yards. San Luis Obispo quarterback Emilio Corona also showed flashes of play-making ability, throwing on the run consistently and dropping in a perfectly-placed touchdown pass down the right sideline.

The starting St. Joseph defensive players were irate after allowing San Luis Obispo to score on the first series of plays, but the group played better as the scrimmage wore on. 

The Knights' offensive play-makers stood out. Darien Langley and Devin Guggia both broke off long touchdowns. Guggia, who's expected to start at tailback this year, took a screen pass from Artopoeus, broke one tackle and raced to the end zone for a 55-yard scoring play.

Artopoeus' mobility and ability to keep his eyes downfield set up a long scoring pass to Langley. The senior quarterback scrambled after facing quick pressure, then tucked the ball to run downfield, but pulled the ball back out when he spotted a wide open Langley down field. Artopoeus hit Langley with a pass and the track sprinter took care of the rest, racing past the SLO defense. 

Billy Collins, a versatile player for the Knights, broke off a 30-yard touchdown run. 

The scrimmage ended with each team playing through a series of red zone scenarios.

St. Joseph first-year coach Pepe Villasenor commended the effort from his team but, bluntly, said he's always expecting more out of his young group.

"My expectations are high and I have a great deal of urgency and I'm not going to be satisfied," Villasenor said. "I thought the young men played very hard today and the good thing about scrimmages is that you can utilize them to get ready for the season and be able to hash out all those little mistakes that you don't want in the first or second week and throughout the preseason.

"But, I'm definitely excited."

San Luis Obispo is in a position to really improve in 2018. The Tigers move from the stacked PAC 5 League to the Ocean League, joining Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley, Nipomo, Templeton and Morro Bay in that conference. 

But, as Friday showed, the Tigers appear to plainly be a better football team in 2018.

"I was proud how the guys came out and showed no fear and no hesitation to play football against a good team in St. Joe after they took it to us pretty good last year," said SLO coach Pat Johnston. St. Joseph beat SLO 70-7 last year as the Tigers went 2-8. "We knew that we wanted to come in and have a good showing, not just because of what happened last year, but because we have high expectations for our season. Our guys started out pretty strong. We flew around and played fast."

There was some bad news for St. Joseph on the injury front. Starting lineman Alex Ontiveros went down with a leg injury on one of the first offensive plays for the Knights, though the extent of the injury was unknown.

"One of our young men went down and, god-willing, he'll be OK," Villasenor said. "His health is first and foremost. We can't afford to lose any young men."

Johnston did agree that the Tigers are a little bit more upbeat knowing they're in a more balanced league and now in a more competitive CIF Central Section, though the Tigers do start the season against rival Arroyo Grande Friday.

"It's nice to look at the back-end of the schedule and know you're not looking up at Division I teams like Arroyo Grande, St. Joe, Atascadero and Paso," Johnston said. "I think it helps to look forward to a long season when you know that you're going to play some teams that are equitable toward you at the end of the year."

Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at


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