Turf finally ready for Bainbridge homecoming

Bainbridge running back Ross Cobb looks for a opening during a sweep against top Eastside Catholic during the second quarter on Oct. 3 in Sammamish. The Crusaders beat the Spartans 31-7 in Metro League play.

Coach Andy Grimm has wisely downplayed the fact that his Bainbridge High football team’s first home game of the season won’t happen until this Friday – five games into the season. And he doesn’t think the delay, due to renovations and the laying of a new artificial turf at Memorial Stadium, has bothered his players either.

However, his unperturbed demeanor cracks a bit when he mentions that his players probably won’t be allowed to romp on the new Astroturf until they begin pregame workouts for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff against O’Dea.

“We’d hoped to get on it earlier,” Grimm said Monday, “but I guess the surface won’t be ready until Friday. Maybe not until our warmups. But, hey, like I told the kids, we play on this type of surface all of the time. It’s nothing new.”

Perhaps, but you’d think the fact that the players won’t be allowed to practice on the new surface until the 11th hour might be a little disconcerting.

“It’s like finishing a kitchen in your home right up to the time when you’re having some people over for dinner,” he said with a laugh. “We’re just happy to be home. It’s a big game and we’ll have a big crowd. And it’s homecoming and all that.”

Not to mention the fact that while the field probably will be wet on Friday, it won’t be muddy as it often is this time of the year.

Nancy Josephson, the school district’s capital projects manager, said the field is ready to go but it was decided to save it for the big game.

“It’s a special day and we wanted to let the team and the rivalry with O’Dea be the inaugural event on it,” she said. “The field itself is ready and we’re excited about it. Other than the installers, no one has really been out on it. That’s the way we wanted it.”

She said the district is still awaiting the arrival of a special wide-tire tractor that grooms the rubber-crumb field and the official results of the “G-Max test” that measures the amount of absorption of the field. “But preliminarily we’ve been told that everything is fine.”

Grimm said the fact that his team had to play two away games that were originally scheduled for Bainbridge Island probably had no affect on the outcome of the games. North Kitsap outplayed the Spartans 33-7 in a game played in Silverdale and BHS thumped Kingston 44-17 even with the game rescheduled for North Kitsap.

“We really have tried not to overemphasize it,” Grimm said. “We just have to go out and play wherever we are. The longest trip we’ll have this season was to Vashon with the ferry rides (BHS won 42-17). So it’s not a big deal.”

He’d really rather talk about football.

The Spartans are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Metro League play, beating Seattle Prep 34-0 at West Seattle and losing 31-7 to Eastside Catholic last Friday.

Grimm said it’s difficult to measure his team’s improvement after five games because the teams the Spartans defeated were less talented and the two teams they lost to outmatched them physically.

“We’ll run into that again with O’Dea,” he said, “but this week will be a indicator of whether or not we have improved. We’ll be playing ‘up’ again and we’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game to be competitive. We’ll have to do everything right and hope to get some breaks.”

The Spartans have emphasized the running attack this season more than passing, dominating the smaller teams with it and having difficulty passing against North Kitsap and Eastside Catholic. Wingback Ross Cobb leads the team in rushing yards. Cobb scored Bainbridge’s only touchdown against Eastside Catholic with a 24-yard run in the third quarter.

“We’re only passing six or seven times a game,” Grimm said. “We’d like to get better at it, be more consistent, but you have to stay with what works. We’ve run well against the smaller schools because we can move them around.”

As usual, O’Dea, a Class 3A powerhouse year after year, will be big, physical and talented.

“They’ve got 300-pounders up front and a fullback who’s committed to UW,” he said. “And they’ve got four little guys who run around behind all those big dudes up front. It’s a disciplined team that runs to the ball well. It’ll be a challenge just like it is every year.”

The Spartans will follow Friday’s game with an Oct. 18 contest at Lakeside and an Oct. 24 home game against Bishop Blanchet.

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