Spartans prep hard for their upcoming debut | SEASON PREVIEW: BHS FOOTBALL

Daily double practices ended earlier last week as the Bainbridge High School football team settled into a regular practice routine in preparation for the start of the 2014-2015 season.    - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Daily double practices ended earlier last week as the Bainbridge High School football team settled into a regular practice routine in preparation for the start of the 2014-2015 season.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

There’s no question that when they return to the gridiron in exactly seven days for their first game of the season – Friday, Sept. 5 on the road against North Kitsap High — the Bainbridge High School varsity football team will be pegged as the underdogs.

And that’s exactly the way Spartan Head Coach Andy Grimm wants it.

“I’d like to see us come out and play well against them and let the scoreboard take care of itself,” Grimm said. “Mentally, they [NK] should probably be going, ‘Oh, I don’t think Bainbridge will be much,’ and that’s great. I love it. I love being the underdog.”

“It’s much easier to motivate high school boys – or probably more so boys – when they feel like they’re the underdog, or, when they feel disrespected,” he explained.

The earning of respect is shaping up to be a hallmark of this year’s preseason, as the team’s coaches and returning players continually struggle to shake off the specter of last season’s disappointing final record of 1-9.

Grimm maintains, however, that there are no skeletons looming in the Spartans’ collective closet, and said that this year’s squad is coming together nicely and meeting the set practice requirements on schedule.

“The kids are working hard,” he said.

“It’s been hot. Energy-level, we got a little tired toward the end of  [Monday], just because of the heat and double, but [Tuesday] was our last double practice and I thought we came back [Tuesday] afternoon pretty strong considering it was a pretty warm day.”

The weather may be unpredictable in the early days of any season in the Pacific Northwest, but in his time with the program Grimm has seen it all. This year marks the program patriarch’s 20th year as a BHS football official, and his 16th as head coach.

In that time he has amassed a career record of 79-74.

Grimm named this season’s top returners as seniors Casey Brink (QB/DB), Ben Fisher (RB/LB), Gareth Grindeland (OL/LB), Kyle Jackson (QB/DB), Max Thomas Jr. (OL/LB), Cal Barash-David (K/K), Max Wickline (WR/DB) as well as juniors Sam Wysong (RB/LB) and Nich Nordberg (WR/DB).

As newcomers to the BHS varsity scene this year, but already turning into players to watch, Grimm singled out Carter Daniels, Ben DeVries, Oskar Dieterich (a senior absent from

the field last year, who Grimm described as “a piece we were missing”), Eric Jung, Grant Klausen, Riley Dunn, Peter Lindsey, Alex Pickett, Sam Roth, Alstofo Rueda, Connar Martin and Joe Cibula.

Though not prepared at this early stage to select a first-choice quarterback, Grimm said that Brink, Jackson and Dunn, a sophomore, were all being closely considered.

“So [I’m] not willing to name a starting quarterback as of today,” Grimm said earlier this week. “When we come out of Saturday we’ll have a plan, but they’re even. To me, they’re really pushing each other. It’s great. That’s what you want, making it tough on us.”

This season is also a special one for Grimm on a personal level, he explained, as it is the first in at least seven years he has not had one of his own sons on the team.

“They were, I don’t want to brag, but they were really good kids,” he said. “They loved the game. They loved to compete. I had them on the fields in my huddles continually for I think it was seven years. They were another kid. They were just another player. I was Dad when we got in the car to go home.”

“It’s tough not having them here,” he admitted. “That’s a whole other — that’s the parenting side of it.”

Absent though his own children may be, Grimm said little else has changed for him this season and that he intended to maintain his established coaching style, relying heavily on the input of his assistant coaches and volunteers.

“Football is so position-specific,” Grimm explained. “I don’t feel comfortable deciding a kids playing time when I don’t see him a whole lot during the practice, because we’re kind of whole-part-whole stuff. I have my guys and I can tell you everything you want to know about tight ends, guards and tackles. How they practice and how hard they’re working. Do they know their job? The only time I see Kyle and Casey is when we’re doing that stuff at the end.”

“So that’s why I really rely on my staff,” he said. “Is anybody not working hard? Is anybody not leading well? In any position.”

Looking ahead, past the season debut, Grimm said that if Bainbridge were out of the running he would choose either Eastside Catholic, O’Dea, Bishop Blanchet or Seattle Preparatory to finish in the number one league spot this year.

The team’s first home game is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 against Everett High School.

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