The excitement is there for football team

Senior Max Sandvig takes the ball away from a teammates during a drill at practice on Thursday. Bainbridge opens the 2007 season when they take on their arch-rival, the North Kitsap Vikings, at 7 p.m. next Friday at Memorial Stadium. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Senior Max Sandvig takes the ball away from a teammates during a drill at practice on Thursday. Bainbridge opens the 2007 season when they take on their arch-rival, the North Kitsap Vikings, at 7 p.m. next Friday at Memorial Stadium.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Bainbridge eager to use Gilbreath, defense to make it to state.

Soon after the Bainbridge boys’ lacrosse team defeated Mercer Island for the state title last May, Dayton Gilbreath sported an Eraserhead haircut at school as part of a team ritual to celebrate their win.

This season, he’s at practice with a clean-cut look, but neither he nor head coach Andy Grimm is worried about losing his ability after losing his hair – much like the Biblical figure Samson did.

Gilbreath is more concerned about how teams will approach him this season.

“I was talking to the Eastside (Catholic) coach at (camp),” he said. “He said ‘Yeah, we know who you are.’

“I was like, great

The success of the Bainbridge football team will depend on how they game plan for their opponents for the 2007 season.

Last year, they went 8-2 and finished second in the Metro League Mountain Division to O’Dea.

They lost to Shorecrest in the qualifying round of the state playoffs, but Grimm feels they can’t let down their guard over their success from last season.

“It’s constantly figuring out how to retool,” he said. “The big thing is the kids’ ability to work hard.

“We’re at the point of repetition right now, so it’s bearing through the two-a-days and getting quality reps in everything you do.”

The Spartans replace 13 players lost to graduation, including All-Metro first and second team selections in Quinton Agosta, Kyle Petheram, Gabe Culkin and Bryan Gilbreath.

Bryan was also the All-Metro Mountain Division Defensive co-MVP and was named to the Associated Press all-state 3A football first team for offense and defense.

Culkin was named the All-Metro Mountain Division Lineman of the year.

While losing that much talent is always challenging, Grimm said there are several players ready to fill their spots.

“Going into last year, we knew we had some quality kids from the year before, but the other kids (coming in) got some quality playing time.

“Now they’re going to be counted on. They’re moving up. They’re going to be offensive or defensive guys or both.”

Chief among those is Dayton Gilbreath, Bryan’s younger brother.

The senior ran for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns last season after missing his sophomore season with a broken leg, showing off a power running style reminiscent of college and NFL star Ricky Williams.

Dayton, an All-Metro first team selection on offense and defense, will start at fullback and defensive end this season, but he won’t worry about having to live up to Bryan’s reputation.

“I got big shoes to fill,” the co-captain, who is being looked at by BYU, Oregon State and Connecticut for football and Air Force and BYU for lacrosse, said. “But we’ve got quick guys, fast guys and big guys that can score.”

Also in the mix in the backfield are juniors Ross Cobb and Mario McLaughlin, senior co-captain Kauika Peleti and seniors Max Olson and Max Sandvig.

“We’ll rely on the run to set up the pass,” Grimm said. “We think we can do that with out backfield.

“We’ve got a big-time running back in there with Dayton, but you have capable kids that will be able to help. We’ll try to spread the ball around a bit and give guys a break here and there.”

Junior Colin Feldtman and sophomore Jordan Wagner, a first-year player, will compete for the quarterback spot vacated by Agosta.

Senior Joe Haley is slotted as the emergency quarterback.

Feldtman said neither he nor Wagner are too concerned about getting into a battle for the quarterback spot or living up to Agosta’s past performances.

“We can hopefully bring some leadership to the team,” he said. “Hopefully we can bring some success and get our team where they want to go.”

Also returning to make up the offensive line are juniors James Herman, Kiyle Playter and Zane Sackett and senior Chad Kakela.

Herman, Playter and Sackett were all All-Metro honorable mentions last season.

Charlie Forsyth will round out the starting five while Playter, Sackett and senior Gary French join Dayton on the starting defensive line.

“We’ve got a quality line,” Grimm said. “We’ve got a handful of guys that can come in and spell those guys (Ian Powell, Wes Saunders, Jethro Cotton) and with the talent in the backfield, we can make things happen.”

Feldtman has been impressed with the work ethic of the big men up front.

“Our linemen are working hard,” Feldtman said. “Whenever we do conditioning, they’re doing it at 100 percent.”

Dayton thinks the line will help him and the rest of the backs have a standout year running the ball.

“We’ve actually got a ‘big’ line this year,” Dayton said. “I’m so excited.”

While Playter takes over for Bryan defensively, senior co-captain Mike Walsh moves into the tight end spot.

Among the players ready to replace Petheram at linebacker are Herman, Peleti, junior Kyle Szarzynski and a newcomer in sophomore Austin Reifeis, who moved from Colorado.

Dayton feels that Szarzynski will have a big year after last year’s breakout performance.

“He played really well as a starter last year,” he said. “He kept up with Kyle and he was always on the play and making the tackle.”

Grimm said their defensive front eight is among the best squads out there.

“We’re pretty solid as far as experience and strength,” he said.

They’ll get going against North Kitsap at home next Friday and Bremerton on the road Sept. 7th, then start their league schedule with Chief Sealth on the road Sept. 14th.

To make it back to the playoffs, they’ll have to earn either a first or second playoff spot, but they’ll have to go through O’Dea and Eastside Catholic to do it.

Grimm feels they have the team to go as far as they can.

“We want the expectation level to remain the same,” he said. “That’s what the kids expect. They don’t want anything different.”

Dayton feels they’ll be a team in every sense of the word.

They’ve kept the fourth captain spot for Cameron Johnson, who was slated to be the starting quarterback this season but was sent to boarding school after getting into some trouble.

“It’s his birthday coming up, so we’re sending him stuff,” he said. “We’re retiring his jersey this year so no one else can be number 7.”

Gilbreath said the team is sending him a card and and buying his jersey for him this year.

“He’s doing really well and he may be able to come back,” he said. “Our whole team is behind him and rooting for him. We still believe he’s part of the team.”

Game time for the North Kitsap game is 7 p.m.

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