Sports

Gridders launch Metro forayGrimm: They're ready for the big games.

The Spartan football team opens the 2001 season in a new league and wearing new helmets. Well, the helmets aren't exactly new. Head coach Andy Grimm and assistants Jim West and Jake Haley all played Spartan football wearing blue helmets, and decided to return to that tradition.They also hope to start another tradition, that of becoming contenders for the state 3A football playoffs. Grimm welcomes seven offensive and seven defensive starters back from last year's 5-4 team as the Spartans make their Metro League debut by hosting Ballard on Friday. Grimm is optimistic about this season, with a roster headed by 12 seniors.Also, 24 juniors and several members of last year's undefeated freshman team who should make substantial contributions as sophomores suggest that the Spartans will be a force next year as well.One reason for Grimm's upbeat outlook is that for the first time in his four year tenure he has significant depth throughout the roster.In the previous years we've been walking on eggshells, hoping that no one gets hurt, he says. But now we have decent depth. If we have to go to our number two at any position, we're still in good shape. And the competitiveness between the ones and twos is great. If any of the starters aren't cutting it, the number two is ready to come in and take his place.While Grimm concedes that playing in a new league creates some problems in playing hitherto unknown opponents, he feels that the legacy of the Pierce County League - in which Bainbridge played for the past several years and is generally considered stronger, top to bottom, than Metro - will help to counteract those difficulties.We've been in enough big-type games against teams like Lakes, White River and Franklin Pierce so that the kids won't be intimidated, he says. And they worked hard in the off-season. Some of them are twenty pounds heavier, so they'll be more durable and able to do more stuff.On offense, we'll be quick and execute on a high level. Teams should have trouble stopping us because we'll have several diverse looks.And on defense, our best attribute is that we'll bend but not break. The kids rally to the ball well. On sweeps, watch the number of kids that get to the ball. In the past, we might have just one or two and if the runner breaks that then he's gone.There are a lot of unknowns, he concluded. But with the number of returners we have, if we play to our potential we'll be in a good position by the end of the year.A capsule look at the team's depth chart:OffenseQuarterback: Clayton Hallum (senior, 170 pounds) returns for his second season as the starter with Scott Burkland (jr., 165) as his backup.Halfback: Gary Duffner (sr., 195), another returning starter, and Spencer Evans (jr., 180), who played varsity special teams.Fullback: Andy Aversano (jr., 190) and Burkland.Wingback: Andrew Linne (sr., 175), a key backup last year and Kenny Walker (sr., 160), who played JV.Split end: Jeff Tracy (sr., 170) and Teddy Picha (sr., 180) again will alternate, bringing in each play from the sidelines.Tight end: Three-year starter Adam Smith (sr., 180) and P.J. Holton (sr., 190).Tackle: Chris Pierce (jr., 250) moves from starting guard last year to tackle. The other starter is Jarred Hinton (jr., 250), up from the JVs.Guard: Three-year starter Stefan Peter-Contesse (sr., 210) and Peter Mandell (jr., 190). Grimm feels that their height - Peter-Contesse is 6-6 and Mandell stands 6-4 - gives them added leverage while blocking.Center: Nick McCallum (jr., 210) has a slight edge over Matt Wauters (so., 220).Line backups: Marc Rasmussen (sr., 220) is the key reserve as he's capable of playing any of the five down lineman positions. With Rasmussen a vital fixture on defense, Grimm prefers to holding him back on offense to keep him fresh when the other team has the ball. Others are guard Matt Boss (so., 210) and tackle Chad Wagoner (sr., 195), who's returning to football after a year's absence due to injury.DefenseEnds: Peter-Contesse and MandellNose tackle: PierceTackle: RasmussenLine backups: Evans, Hinton, Matt Wauters, McCallumOutside linebackers: Smith and Aversano, with Evans as the primary backupInside linebackers: Holton and Duffner, with Wagoner the top reserveCorners: Burkland and Walker. Liam Corey (jr., 150, a starter last year, is recovering from an injury but Grimm expects him later in the season). Picha and Michael Ursser (so., 155) will fill in.Safety: Tracy and Michael Wauters (jr., 185).KickingKickoffs, PAT's, field goals: TracyPunting: Hallum

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