Spartans prepare for Vashon’s spread attack

Jason Haley attempts to push through a would-be tackler at practice.  - Brad Camp
Jason Haley attempts to push through a would-be tackler at practice.
— image credit: Brad Camp

If Bainbridge High School’s impressive win over rival North Kitsap last week is a barometer, it’s possible that the Spartans won’t be fully tested until they open Metro League play later this month against Seattle Prep.

The Spartans led 28-0 at halftime against a team that beat them 33-7 a year ago. They completely dominated North Kitsap for three quarters before the visitors scored three touchdowns in the last eight minutes of the game against BHS reserves.

That’s not to say Class 1A Vashon Island will be a pushover when the Pirates invade BHS Stadium tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Nisqually League team opened with a 38-13 blowout of Sultan and was No. 8 in 1A rankings this week in the Tacoma News-Tribune poll.

But the 3A Spartans, who beat the Pirates 38-14 a year ago at Vashon, may prove to have too much firepower on both sides of the ball.

“They play defensively a lot like North Kitsap,” coach Andy Grimm said, “so we’ll attack inside between the tackles and then counter running outside and with our passing attack. I think they’ll have trouble stopping our passing.”

Grimm’s linemen proved to be too strong for the Vikings, opening and closing holes at will during the first three quarters. Center Alex Grimm and sophomore tackle Logan Dieterich were especially dominant on offense, helping fullback Alex Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns in the first half while finishing with 130 yards on 19 carries. The Spartans ran for 330 yards on 50 carries, with Johnson using his 220 pound frame to hammer away inside and a stable of quick running backs to attack the perimeter.

“Alex had a big game and our passing game was solid,” he said. “Again, our balance helped out our offense with the threat of passing.”

Senior quarterback Jordan Wagner benefitted from the line play, running out of the option for 58 yards and a touchdown on six carries. He also completed five passes for 88 yards, throwing just enough to keep North Kitsap’s defense honest. But it’s obvious he’s a long-ball threat when given the opportunity.

Defensively, the Spartans are difficult to run on between the tackles, but proved to be a bit vulnerable to the big play as Viking quarterback Alex Nettleton and running back Alex Fuchs created several long gainers. But penalties, turnovers and the Spartans’ line play stopped the Vikings from sustaining any of their drives during the first three quarters of play.

Alex Grimm led the defense with seven tackles and caused a fumble he recovered. Defensive backs Chris Bell and Cole Rabinowitz both intercepted long throws by Nettleton to stop drives.

“It was a typical first game in that we did some good stuff with big plays,” Grimm said. “But we also need to stay on our blocks better and run better routes.”

Vashon Island runs a spread offense and was led in its opener by running back Nathan Betz, a 180-pound senior who rushed for 115 yards on 23 carries against Sultan. Quarterback Jeff Rauma completed eight of 18 passes for 159 yards, with receiver Matt Kerns catching four passes.

The Pirates dominated Sultan defensively with nine sacks and three interceptions, led by Randyn Gregg’s nine tackles and two sacks. Defensive back Austin Franks had two interceptions and six tackles.

“They (the Pirates) had a good game defensively but the team they played wasn’t out of this world,” Grimm said. “But it’s all relative at this level... you have to go out there and play your game.”

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