Sensational start for Grizzlies in season opener | Football
Last updated 9/7/2018 at Noon
Talk about hitting the ground running.
Glacier Peak could not have asked for a better start to the season.
From start to finish in virtually all facets of the game, the Grizzlies had their way with Edmonds-Woodway, walloping their opponent 52-0 in a nonconference football game Friday, Aug 31, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I think anytime you can start the season with as complete a game as this, that’s really exciting,” Glacier Peak coach Nick Bender said. “A lot of times at the beginning of the year there’s always kinds of miscues or issues or whatever.”
But aside from one turnover in which a short punt went off the helmet of a blocker, the Grizzlies played a nearly flawless contest.
Glacier Peak jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter before some fans had even settled into their seats. The Grizzlies added to their lead with a touchdown and field goal in the second quarter, two more touchdowns in the third quarter and a final TD in the fourth quarter.
“Kicking game, stifling defense, offense is clicking,” Bender said. “It’s really exciting to see what the possibilities are for this team going forward.”
But it’ll be hard not to look back at how well Glacier Peak played against the defending Wesco 3A South champions. The Warriors, who advanced to the state playoffs, underwent a significant overhaul of their lineup, especially on defense, which featured an entirely new group of starters.
Glacier Peak senior quarterback Ayden Ziomas took full advantage of the Edmonds-Woodway’s inexperience. Ziomas shredded the Warriors’ secondary, completing 24 of 28 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns. Ziomas also ran 13 times for 63 yards and one touchdown. Teammate Caelan Briggs finished with 87 yards on 14 carries and scored one TD.
“I think this is huge for us considering that the last two seasons we lost our opening game,” Ziomas said. “I think coming into this year and getting a big win in our first game is setting the tone early for the season.”
Ziomas targeted seven different receivers. Patrick McKenzie caught seven passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns and Evan Mannes grabbed four receptions for 78 yards and one TD. David Castro had three catches for 64 yards and one score.
“I feel like we did great. A lot of players stepped up,” Ziomas said. “We were spreading the ball around. Not one person was getting it too much. That just shows we have playmakers at every position. I think that having that balance really works in our favor. I’m really lucky to have this group of receivers.”
McKenzie and Briggs’ touchdowns were the first of their varsity football careers.
“Offensively, this team is beyond spoiled,” Bender said. “We have so many weapons. We have threats everywhere. If a defense tries to lock down Mannes, it just opens up everybody else.”
The Glacier Peak defense was just as impressive as the offense. The Grizzlies limited first-team, all-league senior running back Capassio Cherry to only 50 yards on 12 carries. Thirty of those yards came on one run.
New assistant coach Shane Keck brought out the best in the defensive unit, Bender said.
“Anytime you get eight, nine hats running to the ball every single play, you’re going to get good results,” Bender said. “(The offense) is going to break one every now and then, but I’m really happy with how fast our kids rebounded back when a big play did happen.”
Glacier Peak limited Edmonds-Woodway to 47 total yards of offense and forced three turnovers. Warrior quarterbacks Patrick Norton and Reed Carr completed five of 14 passes for 15 yards. The two were sacked three times.
“Capassio is one of the best running backs in the state. He’s a great football player,” Ziomas said. “Our team, we had that hunger. We did what we needed to do. I think our defense especially played with a chip on their shoulder.”
The Grizzlies scored touchdowns on their first three drives. Ziomas threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Castro. Ziomas followed with a 29-yard TD to McKenzie and then found Trevor Meldrom on a 15-yard scoring strike.
Brayden Corwin booted a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter and Ziomas followed with a 6-yard scoring run.
Coming into the season, Bender and his staff have opened up the offense and given Ziomas more freedom.
“When I see people dropping down the field and I see a lane open up in front of me, I just have that mentality I just want to make plays,” Ziomas said. “So if I see there’s room, I can take off and do something myself. I think the biggest thing for me is I just want to make plays.”
Bender is looking forward to seeing what else Ziomas can do with his legs.
“He might be the fastest guy on the field, who happens to be able to throw the ball, which is even better,” the Glacier Peak coach said.
Ziomas connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Mannes to start the third quarter and then found McKenzie for the second time on a 11-yard TD pass. Briggs closed out the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The lopsided scored enabled Glacier Peak to clear the sidelines and get their reserves some quality minutes on the field.
“This is probably the most we’ve ever substituted in the game both offensively and defensively,” Bender said. “We got a lot of guys reps because we’re trying to prepare for the playoff push later on.”
Even though school had not started, the Glacier Peak half of the grandstands was packed to the rafters. The community’s support is appreciated by the Grizzlies.
“I think some people look past it. But it’s really big,” Ziomas said. “Just hearing the crowd cheering and looking up and see the fans, it’s really great. It gives us that momentum and gives us that drive to keep pushing.”
Up next for Glacier Peak is another nonconference clash against a familiar opponent crosstown rival Snohomish. The two teams square off at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Grizzlies then open league play against Jackson at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14, at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Though he was savoring the season opening victory over Edmonds-Woodway with his teammates on the field, Ziomas couldn’t help but think about the possibilities for the 2018 season.
“This is only the beginning,” Ziomas said. “It really showed that if we come out and execute we have the type of talent to be that top contending team and just dominate like we did tonight.”