GLACIER PEAK FOOTBALL PREVIEW
Grizzlies coach thinks team has another shot at playoffs
The Glacier Peak Grizzlies have appeared in nine post-seasons, two state semifinals, and two state quarterfinals. That sounds like a storied history and tradition of success for a 50-year-old program, let alone one that’s just now approaching its first decade in existence. The school opened in 2008.
2016 was a season that would see the Grizzlies continue their run at the post-season, finishing the season with a 5-5 record, but had an unfortunate early post-season exit at the hands of the Sumner Spartans. To say this year’s Grizzlies are
still hungry would be a criminal understatement.
For second year Head Coach Nick Bender, wins and losses are far from how he defines a successful season, “for me, a successful season
is determined in 20 to 25
years from now. It’s about
what type of men they
become; what kind of husbands and fathers they turn out to be is how I measure this team’s success.”
This broad vision and philosophical approach of the Texas-bred, baritoned barking former Marine is more than just talk. This year’s Grizzlies are all in on Coach Bender’s message of family, unity, and accountability. For senior standout wide receiver and defensive back Bo Burns, he sees the impact of what his coaches preach, especially from Bender, “you never quit. You have to do it for your teammates around you sometimes. To be dedicated to completion, regardless of what the score is.”
This season’s motto: “All heart.”
The Grizzlies do have a few challenges ahead for the 2017-2018 season. After graduating 32 players from the previous playoff-caliber team, this will be the first season that defensive line coach Steve Sowers has ever gone into a season without a single returning starter from seasons prior for his 3-4 aligned defensive front. “We’ll be expecting a lot from guys like Ankur
Graves and be looking at others like Ma’ake Fifita to step up and develop.”
Fifita is the third of his family to come through the GPHS football program, and coach Sowers believes he can be just as impactful as his older brothers, if not more. “He’s a different body type than his brothers, being a bit taller and leaner, but he can be explosive.”
Many of this year’s Grizzlies will be seeing extensive
playing time this year, as several of their standout athletes play both ways — offense and defense.
One of those players is senior offensive and defensive lineman Graves, who acknowledges the challenge in playing both ways, but isn’t backing down anytime soon, “it’s
about always staying mentally tough and just putting in the work to be in shape. I can’t take any plays off because that lets down all the guys next to me, and I’m not gonna do that. When I’m out there, they’re doing it for me, so I’m gonna do what I can for them. Simple as that.”
This will be the sixth season the Grizzlies have run the spread offense,which is a rarity itself in high school football, but even less
common is a field general with multiple years of starting experience. Junior quarterback Ayden Ziomas is coming off a sophomore campaign that would see him throw 33 touchdowns to only six interceptions, with a QB rating of 115.9.
When asked about his confidence in this year’s team, senior linebacker and wide receiver Josh Erling was resolute in his belief of his family on the gridiron, “it’s about beating our own expectations. You can’t worry about what everyone else is doing. You just have to focus on what’s in front of you and what you can control. As long as we all do that and keep each other accountable, then I think we can accomplish what we set out for.”
2017 Glacier Peak schedule
All games are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Friday, Sept. 1 vs. Kentwood
Friday, Sept. 8 at Snohomish @ Veteran’s Memorial
Stadium (Snohomish High)
Friday, Sept. 15 at Cascade (8 p.m. game)
Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Jackson
Friday, Sept. 29 at Monroe
Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Lake Stevens
Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Mariner
Friday, Oct. 20 at Kamiak (Goddard Stadium)
Friday, Oct. 27 vs. Mount Vernon
Good Luck from the following Merchants
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