Sports

Spartans face improved Seattle Prep tonight

Bainbridge coach Andy Grimm expected some up-and-down performances early on from his football team since only eight of the 38 are seniors.

And he got them, as the Spartans dominated in their two wins and fell flat in losing to Vashon Island.

But now, with the Metro League part of the schedule beginning tonight when Seattle Prep invades BHS Stadium, he is expecting more consistency where it’s most needed – the line of scrimmage.

“Last game (a 33-0 win over 2A Kingston) was better in that we did a nice job getting off people and staying with our blocks,” he said. “But from now on the teams will be better and we need to get better, too.”

Led by Alex Johnson’s 172 rushing yards, the Spartans ran over Kingston with 385 yards on 50 carries (7.7) and needed quarterback Jordan Wagner to throw only five passes.

“Seattle Prep will put eight or nine guys up on the line of scrimmage and dare us to run,” Grimm said. “They do that against us because that’s what we do.”

It hasn’t worked too well in recent years, including in 2008 when the Spartans won 34-0. But Grimm expects a slow starting game because of Prep’s tendency to pack the line with defenders.

“We’ll have to chip away at them, get them to spread out by running outside and do some passing,” he said. “When running, we’ll be looking for a seam where we can break a long one.”

The Spartans had no trouble doing that against Kingston, breaking off TD runs of 29 yards by both Johnson and Wagner. Jordan also scored from 10 yards out, and Josh Peter scored on runs of 18 and 11 yards.

The 220-pound Johnson has gained 342 yards on 49 carries (6.9 yards) in three games, though he was held to 40 yards against Vashon.

But he figures to be the biggest threat against Prep since he’s difficult to bring down and has good speed for his size.

Seattle Prep defeated Granite Falls (14-7) and Steilacoom (28-0), losing to Cedar Crest (20-12).

The Panthers operate out of a shotgun set and like to run an option that emphasizes running the ball.

Quarterback Roger Mecham has thrown for two touchdowns, while the team’s other quarterback, Nick Holt (son of Washington’s defensive coordinator) has scored on runs of 37 and 21 yards. Holt has 225 yards on 20 carries. Running back Joey DeRitis, a 200-pound senior, has run for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

Holt is a 6-foot, 215-pound quarterback/linebacker who, as a junior, is dominant on both sides of the line, Grimm said.

“They looked better on film than they did last year,” Grimm said. “But it’s hard to tell since their opponents are sort of unknowns.”

Grimm said the Panthers have shown improvement since coach D.R. Clawson was hired last year as the Panthers’ head coach.

They’re looking better,” he said, “so we’ll have to play a good game to win.”

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