Returning talent boosts Grizzlies’ outlook for upcoming season | Football
Last updated 7/20/2018 at Noon
A successful spring and summer has Glacier Peak coach Nick Bender and the Grizzlies feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
Glacier Peak returns a veteran group that includes five players who already have college scholarship offers.
“That’s the most ever we’ve had at one time,” Bender said.
The five include quarterback Ayden Ziomas, wide receiver/tight end Evan Mannes, lineman Ma’ake Fifita, tight end/defensive back Spencer Cramer and lineman Kian Abdalkhani.
Bender added that all five are excellent students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher with a couple also taking Advanced Placement classes.
“It speaks volumes about them,” Bender said. “It blows my mind what teenagers are able to do.”
This will be the fourth year Ziomas leads the Grizzy offense. The first-team, all-league standout took over mid-way through his freshman season and has guided the offense ever since.
“We’re beyond being spoiled and blessed,” Bender said. “To have him as a starter for four years, that in itself is mind-boggling. He has complete control and mastery of the offense. We can get quite creative.”
Bender noted that it’s rare for a freshman to start on varsity and even more rare for one to be the starting quarterback.
While Ziomas’ prowess with his arm is well-known throughout the league, Bender said that opponents can expect his quarterback to be more of a threat on the ground.
“This year we’re going to completely unleash Ayden and let him be him,” Bender said. “It will be a nice added dimension.”
Ziomas will have a supporting cast that is perhaps the most experienced in his four years.
“I think in all positions, especially on offense, we have a lot of returning starters,” Bender said. “With wide receivers and running backs we have replaced one starter. We moved a couple guys around.”
One position that had not been settled is the primary running back, though Bender noted that senior-to-be Caelan Briggs has had a strong spring and summer.
Whoever starts in the backfield will have the luxury of running behind an offensive line that that likely be the biggest in recent memory.
Bender estimates that the line will average around 240 pounds.
“In high school, that’s pretty special,” Bender said. “They’re athletic too.”
Many of the offensive standouts, such as Mannes, Abdalkhani, also are leaders on the defense.
Bender expects many of the younger players to have key roles on both sides of the ball, especially given how well they performed in the offseason.
“The young guys shocked us by how well they did in the spring,” Bender said. “We expect big things from them.”
The Grizzlies like to keep their players fresh by rotating in reserves whenever possible.
“We’re trying to get the kids as much experience as possible,” Bender added.
Glacier Peak had about 140 players in grades 9-12 come out for spring ball.
“We had the highest attendance in school history,” Bender said.