EDMONDS — Only one time in five seasons had the Glacier Peak Grizzlies beat the Meadowdale Mavericks. Friday night the Grizzlies earned their second win against the Mavericks, and the result — the 3A Wesco South championship.
The Grizzlies fell behind early, but scored the game’s final 25 points to win 25-7.
“Every year that we’ve been here it’s been against these guys for the championship,” Glacier Peak coach Rory Rosenbach said. “So to get an opportunity to play them for the South championship, that’s how we would want it and I’m really proud of the way they played and practiced all week to prepare for this game. It feels pretty good, we’ve got one more though.”
With a victory and Marysville Pilchuck’s 47-39 comeback victory over Oak Harbor, the Grizzlies face off against the Tomahawks next Friday in the Wesco 3A championship game.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to play for it,” Rosenbach said. “I know (Tomahawks head coach Brandon) Carson pretty well. He’s a great guy. He will do a good job and have his kids prepared. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Mavericks, playing without several key players, including quarterback Brian Marty and running backs Giavani Shepard and Morgan Masanda, got on the scoreboard first using a version of the Wildcat that featured running back Malik Braxton taking many of the snaps at quarterback. Braxton broke through on the second play of the Mavericks second drive when he scored on 41-yard touchdown run to give Meadowdale a 7-0 lead.
“I knew (we) would be ready,” Rosenbach said. “We anticipated some form of Wildcat. I actually thought a couple of those guys were going to play, but I still anticipated Wildcat because of their quarterback situation. We had prepared for it and we were OK. The first play they got us on and then we settled down and adjusted to it.”
While the Mavericks enjoyed the game’s first lead, the Grizzlies continued to struggle offensively as their first three drives resulted in no points. Then the Grizzlies woke up and started to take advantage of a depleted Meadowdale team. Quarterback Chris Beccera began to work his connection with receiver Sean Elledge and the offense relied on running back Michael Palmer to pound his way downfield.
The Grizzlies fourth drive went 57 yards in five plays culminating in a 43-yard touchdown from Beccera to wide receiver Austin Hines. Glacier Peak surprised the Mavericks on the conversion attempt when Hines took a direct snap and ran the ball into the end zone to give the Grizzlies an 8-7 lead. They never trailed again.
“It’s just what we like to do,” Rosenbach said of the decision to go for two. “It’s what we like to do. I like them chasing points. If you get that, now they are chasing points. It’s just something we like to do. Sometimes we do it on the first one, sometimes we do it on the second one. It’s something we want (the other team) to prepare for and we enjoy doing it.”
Whether it was the rain or just the caliber of the defense played on both sides, both teams continued to struggle offensively for the remainder of the half, but the Grizzlies came up with a big special teams play just before halftime that extended their lead. Elledge blocked a Mavericks punt deep in their own territory and it was scooped up by Josh Pinca, who returned the ball 20 yards for a Grizzlies touchdown.
“That blocked punt was huge, that just ignited everybody,” Rosenbach said. “It got everybody ready to go and we just rolled from there.”
Beccera finished the first half 8-for-15 for 109 yards and one touchdown. In the first half, Elledge caught five passes for 50 yards and Palmer rushed for 64 yards. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it worked.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, aside from their one long run, couldn’t do anything offensively. They completed just one pass in the first half for one yard and had just 84 yards of total offense.
After the game, Mavericks coach Mark Stewart downplayed his team’s rash of injuries going into the game.
“We were missing some players, but you know, we have some guys that were juniors or seniors that have an opportunity and we just have to get things done,” Stewart said. “Granted we are missing people, but so are other (teams).”
The second half couldn’t have started any worse for the Mavericks. They went three-and-out on their first possession and the Grizzlies answered with big plays from Palmer and Elledge. A 17-yard connection from Beccera to Elledge followed by a 21-yard touchdown run by Palmer turned what started as a close game into a game dominated by the Grizzlies.
The Mavericks went three-and-out again on their next possession and the Grizzlies followed it up with a six-play drive that ended in a 41-yard field goal by Spencer Pettis making the score 25-7, which proved to be the final margin.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Edmonds Stadium
M—Malik Braxton 41 run (Brett Schafer kick)
GP—Austin Hines 43 pass from Chris Beccera (Hines run)
GP—Josh Pinca 20 blocked punt return (Spencer Pettit kick)
GP—Michael Palmer 21 run (Pettit kick)
GP—Pettit 41 FG
Records—Glacier Peak 4-0 league, 7-1 overall; Meadowdale 3-1, 6-2