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Young blood for Spartans
"The frequently outmanned Bainbridge football team is finally looking at the arrival of reinforcements from back-to-back outstanding freshman teams.Those kids will start making an impact this year, third-year coach Andy Grimm said. Not a lot of them will be starters, but they give us some depth, and these kids are ready to step in and compete.The last two years in the tough Pierce County League have not always been kind to the Spartans, as the three wins over those seasons shows. But Grimm thinks a middle-of-the pack finish or better is a real possibility this year.The key, though, might be surviving the first two games - the home opener against Washington and then a road trip to Clover Park to take on Lakes. Grimm expects those two teams to be among the league's elite, along with Franklin Pierce.Once again, the top players will be workhorses, and will play on both offense and defense.We'd rather not play kids both ways, Grimm said, but the best player at each position will play. If one kid is the best at both an offensive and defensive position, then he'll play both ways.In the past, Grimm said, the Sparts have had as few as six and as many as nine two-way players. This year, he expects the number to be in between.Unlike past years, though, Grimm says there is very little fall-off between the top player and the next player on the depth chart.We may not have superstars, but we have a team of equals. That makes us better able to withstand injuries, he said.Anchoring the offensive line will be Chris Mandell, the only returning Spartan to earn all-league honors last season. The 6-4, 195-pound senior will play offensive guard and defensive end. Stefan Peter-Contesse, a 6-4, 205-pound junior, will play offensive tackle and defensive end. The third solid line spot is tight end, where lacrosse star Adam Smith, a 5-10, 185-pound junior is a fixture.The other line spots are up for grabs. Among the competitors will be Marc Rasmussen, a 5-11, 210-pound junior; Garrett Soames, a 5-11, 185-pound senior; Chris Pierce, a 6-0, 205-pound sophomore and Peter Mandell, a 6-4, 195-pound sophomore.Two players are vying for the starting quarterback position. One is Clayton Hallum, a 5-10, 165-pound junior who played some quarterback last year for the varsity. The other is Scott Burkland, younger brother of last year's quarterback Tyler, a 5-8, 170-pound sophomore.Fullback may be the most competitive position, where three players are competing evenly, and all will probably get playing time. Battling for the starting spot are Lance Mazey, a 5-10, 165-pound junior; Kenny Walker, a 5-8, 165-pound junior; and heralded sophomore Andy Aversano, a 5-10, 185-pound sophomore who led the freshman team in rushing each of the past two seasons.Andy has a real flair for running and making his cuts, Grimm said. The kind of thing you can't teach. But he doesn't have breakaway speed at the varsity level, so we'll use him more as a power runner, and use the other guys as slashers.The wingbacks in the Sparts' wing-T offense will be Clayton Williams, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, backed by Andrew Linne, a 5-8, 165-pound junior.Halfbacks will be Gary Duffner, a 5-11, 185-pound junior and Matt Dubitsky, a 5-10, 175-pound senior.The wide receiver position is a battle now among Jeff Tracy, the 5-10, 165-pound junior who does the place-kicking, Seth Jacobsen, a 6-2, 165-pound sophomore; Teddy Picha, a 6-2, 165-pound junior and Liam Corey, a 5-11, 160-pound sophomore.On defense, the interior line will feature a combination of Pierce, Peter Mandell and Marc Rasmussen at tackles, with Chris Mandell, Peter-Contesse and Jason Kessler at defensive ends.The linebacking corps will include Duffner, Dubitsky, Aversano and 5-10, 180-pound junior P.J. Holton on the inside, and Smith, Mazey, Linne and Tracy at the outside spots.The cornerbacks will be John Belange, a 5-10, 180-pound senior, along with Corey and Picha. The free safety duties will be shared by Riddle and Michael Wauters, a 6-1, 165-pound sophomore.Grimm knows that at times, his team will be out-athleted, but he believes preparation, concentration and dedication can go a long ways.There will be times when we are out-jumped or out-run. I can live with that, Grimm said. But if we do what we are supposed to do at the point of attack, we'll be okay more often than not. "