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No field, no problem for Spartan football
A large senior group is ready to get back to the playoffs.
As Bainbridge football coach Andy Grimm was talking with a reporter, a loud crack was heard as thunder rumbled across the sky.
Grimm quickly stepped away to talk with assistant coach Kyle Freeman, then came back.
“Never had to deal with this before,” he said.
There’s a lot of things the 14-year coach is dealing with as the Spartans get ready to open the 2008 season.
Along with the construction being done at Memorial Stadium to install a new artificial turf playing field and a new track, Bainbridge must replace 15 seniors, including their standout running back and defensive end in Dayton Gilbreath along with several lineman in Gary French and Chad Kakela. The Spartans also lost last year’s starting quarterback in Jordan Wagner, who moved at the beginning of the month.
But Grimm said the team won’t let anything be a distraction.
“Fortunately we’ve known about it (the field) since the bond was passed,” Grimm said. “Kids are kids and they want to have as many home games as they can – especially the seniors – but we’ve talked to them and said we do what we have to do. If we have to play on the road, we’ll do our best.
“But (instead, we) think of the reward down the line, which is to play in a beautiful facility,” he continued.
BISD capital projects manager Nancy Josephson said that construction is currently on schedule to be completed by Sept. 30, which is the target date.
They’ve finished installment of the storm drain and preparing the field for installation of the turf.
Josephson also referred to a recent evaluation done by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission that states children are not at risk for exposure to lead in artifical turf fields.
“In talking to various members of the community, there is a lot of excitement over the opening of the field,” she said.
The first scheduled event is the Homecoming game against O’Dea on Oct. 10.
Several players are back to play on the new field for Bainbridge including senior co-captains Zane Sackett, Kiyle Playter, James Herman and Kyle Szarzynski.
Sackett, Herman and Playter, along with senior Charlie Forsyth, make up a strong returning offensive line while Szarzynski will play at running back. Playter and Szarzynski also take up spots at outside and inside linebacker, respectively while Sackett anchors the defensive line at nose tackle and Herman moves to the defensive line as well.
“The offensive line stands out,” Grimm said. “It’s not a huge line – we’re probably tapping out at 215 with the biggest kid – but these are guys that are in their third year of (varsity) experience (and playing on) Friday night.”
Playter concurred on the size issue but felt they had enough speed to make up for it.
“We’re a fast team,” he said, noting that he and several other players have run track last season. “We’ve got a lot of fast guys to make up for the lack of size.”
Also returning are senior Ross Cobb and juniors Mario McLaughlin and Alex Johnson.
All three, along with Szarzynski, will be counted on to fill Gilbreath’s shoes in the backfield.
Cobb gained 738 yards last season and scored eight touchdowns despite being lost for the last three games with a concussion.
“Last year if he’s (Cobb) healthy, they would have pretty comparable numbers between the two of them,” Grimm said. “He would have pushed Dayton on stats because he would have had more carries. Ross has that ability to make big plays.”
Senior Colin Feldtman, who saw some time at quarterback last season, is the new starter for Bainbridge. Junior Jason Haley and sophomore Carson Zajonic will back him up.
At receiver, senior Anthony Carter and junior Steffen Dacquisto will get playing time at those spots.
Grimm said they’ll use the run to set up the pass, but thinks the quarterbacks are solid.
“We have the ability to throw with any of those quarterbacks,” Grimm said. “We have (the guys with) the ability to give them time (to throw) and we have guys that can catch it, but it’s always a facet of the game.
“You have any one of those break down,” you’re in trouble, he continued.
Defensively, Johnson is projected to line up at linebacker while Dacquisto and senior Kevin Nguyen will play at the cornerback positions.
They’ll be instrumental on a defense that has posted stellar turnover ratios of +32 in 2006 and +10 last season.
“The guys that have come before have really created that mentality - especially the Gilbreaths (Bryan and Dayton) – of being exciting on defense and getting picks and causing fumbles,” Grimm said. “That’s been embedded in these guys, so it’ll be interesting to see who takes on that role.”
On special teams, Feldtman is back at kicker while junior Kevin McCormick will reprise his punting duties from last season.
Among the many newcomers looking to make an impact are senior Sam Snow, a lacrosse standout who’ll get some playing time at tight end and defensive back and junior John Masla who may see time at tight end and defensive end.
“He (Snow) can help right away,” Grimm said. “Masla’s not a big kid, but he’s a strong and aggressive kid. So he’ll help right away (as well.)”
They’ll be the main players to help Bainbridge compete in an always tough Metro League. Grimm thinks state finalist O’Dea and Eastside Catholic are the top teams in their division, but after that, it’s wide open for any team to compete for a playoff spot this season.
And, he said, the team plans to be right there competing for one.
“We’re going to use it as a motivator and rally around. We have a little adversity. That’s where you can rely on the team more.”
Bainbridge opens the season at rival North Kitsap, who are putting the finishing touches on their own artificial turf field, at 7 p.m. Sept. 5.
If the field isn’t done by then, the game will be moved to Sept. 6 and will be played at 7 p.m. at Silverdale Stadium at Olympic High School in Bremerton.
● As construction workers finish upgrading Memorial Stadium’s field, the Spartans take their show on the road for the first few weeks, traveling near (Poulsbo) and far (Vashon.)
Friday, Sept. 5 - at North Kitsap, 7 p.m.
(If the field isn’t ready, the two teams will play Saturday, Sept. 6 at Silverdale Stadium at 7 p.m.)
Friday, Sept. 12 - at Vashon, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 20 - vs. Kingston at the North Kitsap fields, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 - at Seattle Prep at West Seattle Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3 - at Eastside Catholic, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 10 - vs. O’Dea, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 18 - at Lakeside, 3 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 24 - vs. Bishop Blanchet, 7 p.m.