Spartans look to new O-line to step up against Cougars | FALL SPORTS PREVIEW

The Spartan offensive and defensive lines goes through full-contact drills at one of their final practices this week. - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
The Spartan offensive and defensive lines goes through full-contact drills at one of their final practices this week.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

The Spartan’s young offensive line will get a tough and early test Friday as Bainbridge High faces 4A Central Kitsap in the season opener at Bainbridge Stadium.

Bainbridge Coach Andy Grimm said he knew that after last year’s group of linemen graduated that the non-conference games at the start of this season would be essential for giving his new line the experience they’ll need in Week Four, when Metro League play begins against Eastside Catholic.

“Our line is going to be inexperienced to start. But I think they have the potential to grow and be a real good offensive line,” Grimm said.

“I think we saw that a little bit Saturday,” he said, referring to the progress that’s been made since the Blue and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 25 that marked the end of training camp.

“They really took Saturday and learned from it and really improved this week,” Grimm said.

“The defense had a really good scrimmage; offense was a little slow on Saturday, but then we’ve really had a good week of practice,” he added.

Now they’ll face a largely unfamiliar team, though, the Cougars.

A lack of youth football match-ups between players from Bainbridge and Central Kitsap, different leagues and no game film from this year leaves little familiarity.

That said, Central Kitsap runs a spread offense, so the Spartans can expect to see plenty of speed.

Central Kitsap running back Nick Zawadzki (5-11, 185) is one of just two returners in the Narrows League who passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last year; the senior speedster piled up 1,277 yards in Central Kitsap’s 5-5 season.

The Spartans, with their 4-4 defense, hope to see speed on their side of the ball as well.

Central is going to be a good team, Grimm said.

“We’ve just got to stay within our responsibilities. We can’t get worried about what they’re doing; just do our thing. We’ve got to tackle well on the defense; they have got some nice speed out there,” he said.

Special teams also need to come up smart and strong, and respond to Central’s speed guys on punt returns and kick returns.

The Spartans also hope to put plenty of pressure on the Cougars’ quarterback; Cody LaFontaine (6-1, 185) is a senior but is starting his first year as quarterback.

And on offense, Bainbridge will have to make do without any returning starters on its rebuilt offensive line, though some have seen spot duty in the past.

At center is junior Jarett Grimm (6, 175). Dan Drewry (6-1 200), a senior who didn’t play extensively as a junior, is right guard; left guard is Ryan Comstock, (6-1, 195), a junior; and at left tackle, Jay Terry (6-3, 200), a senior and a new starter.

“All those guys are pretty new to the Friday Night experience,” Coach Grimm said.

Still, some on the line played on special teams last year, and they have seen varsity-level play at camp before the start of the season. The Spartans hosted a spring camp in early June, followed by team camp at Central Washington University.

Grimm said he expects his new line won’t be in awe as it takes the field Friday.

“It’s not going to be an overwhelming: “OK, it’s Friday Night,” he said. “But that speed of Friday Night is going to be the biggest difference.”

The play of the Spartan offensive line will be critical, as the Spartans (5-5 overall, 1-3 Metro last year) use a Wing-T offense.

Depth at the QB position is a Spartan strength. Bainbridge has four quarterbacks on the roster; senior Paimon Jaberi (5-11, 190) and junior Connor Teddy (6-3, 190); plus two newcomers, sophomores Casey Brink (6-2, 185) and Kyel Jackson (6-1, 155).

Other top newcomers include sophomore Oskar Dieterich (WR/DL, 6-6, 215) and senior Spencer Hogger (WR/DB, 6-2, 180).

Top returners for the Spartans include seniors Alex Coplan (WR/DB 6, 175), Max Wysong (RB/DL 6, 200), Nick Beirly (WR/LB, 6-2, 185), Sam Kallas (RB/LB, 6, 185); Matt Stone (RB/DB, 5-9, 185); and Justin Totura (OL/DL, 6-4, 240); and juniors Ben Kussie (RB/LB, 5-11, 180) and Tino Peleti (RB/LB, 5-11, 220).

Against Central Kitsap, the Spartans will need to protect the ball and avoid turnovers, and look for short-field scoring opportunities.

Grimm said the matchup could be a high-scoring affair.

“It could be a shootout,” he said.

That said, the Spartans are up for the challenge.

“The guys are focused in practice. We have a real feeling that it’s game week and we’ve got one more day to prep here,” Grimm said.

“We’ll kind of run back through everything; what they do on defense, what they do on offense, and, of course, special teams.”

After Friday’s home game, the Spartans will travel to Kingston before returning to the island to host Black Hills.

Metro League play begins with an away game against Eastside Catholic on

Sept. 21, followed by Bishop Blanchet, Seattle Prep and Hazen.

The last game of the regular season is at home against perennial powerhouse O’Dea.

“There’s no easy team on our Metro schedule,” Grimm said.

“I think we’ve shown, with the exception of O’Dea ... between Prep, ourselves, Blanchet and Eastside Catholic, that we’re all pretty even and it comes down to who executes that given week.

“Some years we’ve been able to beat up on each other. But most years it’s pretty competitive between the group,” he said.

The Spartans will know just how good they are, however, by the time O’Dea comes to town at the end of the season.

“That’s a good thing for us. We’re going to know right where we’re at, and whether we’re in playoff position or seeding position,” Grimm said.

“Then you just got to bring it,” he added. “They’ve got talent oozing out of their ears.”

Game time against Central Kitsap is 7 p.m. Friday.

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