The renewed focus paid off for the Grizzlies, who shut down and shut out Seattle Prep 28-0 in a 3A quad-district playoff game.
"They played with a little chip on their shoulder," Grizzlies head coach Rory Rosenbach said of his defensive players. "They were a little irritated with what happened last week so they came out and it was a point of emphasis to play with some aggression and finish plays, to get 11 hats on the ball and they did a great job."
The Panthers' running back combination of Tere Calloway and Charlie Brennan, was the focus of the Grizzlies' defense and it showed throughout the game. Seattle Prep finished the first half with just 133 yards of total offense, 114 of which came from Calloway and Brennan. But aside from a 14-yard run by Calloway and a 23-yard run from Brennan the Grizzlies' defense held both players in check.
While Seattle Prep struggled to get anything going against the Grizzlies' defense, Glacier Peak's offense came alive in the second quarter, putting up 21 points.
The first two touchdowns belonged to senior Quinton Dunbar, who caught TD passes of 41 and 7 yards from senior quarterback Chris Becerra. Dunbar's second touchdown came just six plays after Glacier Peak blocked a Seattle Prep punt, giving the Grizzlies the ball on the Panthers' 30-yard line.
Despite catching two touchdown passes, Dunbar's biggest impact came on the defensive side of the football, Rosenbach said.
"He played out of his mind tonight," Rosenbach said.
After the game, even Dunbar admitted he was a bit surprised by the Grizzlies' defensive dominance.
"I didn't expect a shutout," he said. "It was crazy. We played really good as a team."
With the Grizzlies leading 14-0 and the time ticking down in the first half, the Panthers were forced to punt on a fourth-and-six from the Glacier Peak 47-yard line.
Needing 90 yards for a touchdown with just 57 seconds left in the first half didn't seem to faze Rosenbach, the Grizzlies were looking for more points the whole time. After two straight incompletions by Becerra, running back Michael Palmer gained 13 yards and Glacier Peak called timeout. On the next play Becerra got the Grizzlies even closer, finding Marcos Baruch down the sidelines for a gain of 34. Becerra placed the ball perfectly and somehow, despite bobbling the ball initially, Baruch managed to gain possession and get a foot down in bounds.
Baruch's catch with 32 seconds left in the half set the stage for a 43-yard wide receiver screen pass from Becerra to Sean Elledge. After Elledge caught the pass he exhibited his great speed by running through the Seattle Prep defense and making a cutback at the 25-yard line before breaking away from the pack for the game's third touchdown.
"We started slow," Rosenbach said of the team's offensive performance. "The hard thing that we have is that we never really know what we are going to get. We get an idea of a couple of different things we think it is going to be and so you start things off and you hope to get some big plays early, but if they are playing things differently than you thought they would than you have to make those adjustments. Coach (Nick) Bender and those guys in the box do a fantastic job of saying 'hey, they are doing this when we get in this formation, let's run this play.' So we were able to find some creases and get some guys open and get some guys loose."
Becerra finished the game 16-for-25 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Most of his damage came in the first half when he completed 12-for-18 for 197 yards, including all three of his touchdowns.
The Grizzlies offense made one more big play in the third quarter when Becerra connected with Elledge again. Elledge again used his speed to get all the way down to the Seattle Prep 5-yard line before being caught by one of the Panthers defenders. Elledge fumbled on contact and the ball was recovered in the end zone by Glacier Peak's Josh May for another Grizzlies touchdown.
It was just that kind of a game for the Panthers.
Calloway said Glacier Peak's defense surprised him.
Their defense was incredible," Calloway said. "Our defense made a few mistakes. And their offense takes advantage of every mistake that you make. Those are costly mistakes. They had a great defense that effectively contained our power game, which really no other team had done this year."
The Grizzlies will play host to Mount Si next weekend in the first round of the state playoffs.
"They are a really good football team," Rosenbach said. "The only team that they have even had a game with was Bellevue and Bellevue got after them pretty good, but everyone else they have handled. They are extremely well coached. They have great athletes. Their kids get after it for 48 minutes. So it is going to be a dogfight."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Veterans Memorial Stadium
Seattle Prep 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Glacier Peak 0 21 7 0 -- 28
GP--Quinton Dunbar 41 pass from Chris Becerra (Spencer Pettit kick)
GP--Dunbar 8 pass from Becerra (Pettit kick)
GP--Sean Elledge 43 pass from Becerra (Pettit kick)
GP--Josh May recovered Elledge fumble in end zone (Pettit kick)
Records -- Seattle Prep 5-5, Glacier Peak 9-1.
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