Spartans hope home-cooking sinks Vikings

Bainbridge High School football players engage in a heated scrimmage in preparation for Friday
Bainbridge High School football players engage in a heated scrimmage in preparation for Friday's North Kitsap game.
— image credit: Brad Girtz

Andy Grimm is wise not to prognosticate, but if you talk to him long enough it’s clear he has a good feeling about his 2009 Bainbridge High football team.

Only eight of his 33 players are seniors, but he thinks the team’s depth could make a difference in improving on last year’s disappointing 5-5 season.

“Potentially, there’s a good core,” said Grimm, who is entering his 12th season as BHS head coach. “We’re three deep on both sides of the ball. We have more depth quality-wise than last year.”

He admits that last year’s squad had plenty of talent with several making the all-Metro League team, but injuries to key players exposed a lack of depth.

Grimm said it’ll take a few games before he can gauge the talent level of a sophomore class that was undefeated last year as freshmen.

“We know the class has good strength and several of them will be contributing right away,” he said.

Besides the perceived depth, the biggest changes in this year’s club will be a quarterback who is a threat to throw for a touchdown from anywhere on the field, and a field that the Spartans can call home for six of their regularly scheduled games.

Grimm is a “play the cards you’re dealt” kind of coach, and he hasn’t complained publicly about the fact the Spartans played most of their games last year on the road because a field wasn’t ready for action until mid-October.

Conversely, this year the Spartans will play six (of eight) games on the same field they practice, including the opener tonight against North Kitsap. The Vikings dominated the Spartans 33-7 last year, winning for the first time in five years against BHS. But Grimm thinks he has a difference-maker this year in Jordan Wagner.

Wagner, who started for Grimm as a sophomore quarterback before moving to Minnesota last school year, has returned to BHS for his senior year.

“He has a great arm, knows the offense and he can run,” Grimm said. “Where we threw the ball only five or six times a game last year because of a lack of experience at quarterback, we’ll be throwing at least 10 to 15 times this year.”

Having a passing threat in Grimm’s option (Wing-T) offense is critical for success because an accurate thrower can burn defenses that load up on the line of scrimmage to stop the running attack. Grimm also appreciates the team’s depth at the position, where junior Carson Zajonc and sophomore Chris Bell give the coach backups who can also move the offense.

Grimm said Wagner’s arm and mobility will allow the offense to open up more, including throwing more to a stable of quick backs and some hefty receivers. Tight end M.J. Cox (6 feet 4 inches, 205 pounds) and receiver Jason Haley (6 feet, 200 pounds) figure to be two of Wagner’s favorite targets.

The Spartans lost all-Metro League running back Ross Cobb (1,214 net yards as a senior) to graduation, but powerful Alex Johnson returns to lead the way in the fullback-powered offense.

“Fullback is the main guy in our offense,” Grimm said, “and Alex is a good one. He’s also our leader on defense at linebacker.”

While the Spartans will miss Cobb’s speed, Grimm thinks he’s got enough depth in the backfield to make the perimeter attack a team strength. Senior Josh Peters, sophomore Alex Crane, Corey Touchette, and Ed Hall will share playing time.

The key, as always, will be the bruisers up front. It begins with junior center Alec Grimm (coach’s son), tackles sophomore Logan Dieterich and senior Rolf Toren, and junior guards Will Rynerson and Brandon Connor. A wild card may be the play of the 260-pound Dieterich, who will also be busy playing on the defensive line.

And as usual, success in the Metro League will depend on the ability to stop the run.

“In the Metro,” Grimm said, “you don’t have to be a great pass defenders, but you’d better press up front because most teams like to run, especially the better league teams.

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