As a sophomore thrust into duty because of injuries, Sean Elledge often found himself running to senior wideouts Jack Bonner and Tanner Southard with questions.
The intricacies of the Grizzlies’ complex spread were bogging Elledge down, he didn’t know many of the routes and he was trying too hard to use his speed and athleticism and not precise route running to get open. But with the upperclassmen’s help, Elledge had a breakout campaign, catching 57 passes for 594 yards, including a 13-catch, 157-yard performance against rival Meadowdale.
Three years later, Elledge, now the elderstatesman, is the one answering the questions.
“I catch myself and say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what Coach Ro would say,’ said Elledge, jokingly referring to parroting head coach Rory Rosenbach when he’s coaching up teammates. “Whether it’s a route or a drill I try to help everybody.
“(Jack and Tanner) really took me under their wing and helped me out and now I’m a senior and it’s my turn to do that.”
Elledge is not only going to be called upon to lead Glacier Peak’s receiving corps, but help break in the third quarterback in three years at Glacier Peak. Senior Chris Becerra is taking over the reins of the Grizzlies’ high-scoring offense after waiting in the wings behind Kevin Campbell — The Herald’s 2010 Offensive Player of the Year — and David Linney the past two seasons.
Having played with all three, Elledge is the common thread from Campbell to Becerra and he has a unique perspective on how his new quarterback is going to do this season. From the limited time he’s played with him — Becerra started two games last season — Elledge is confident in his new signal-caller.
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“I think we have more chemistry than any of the other quarterbacks that have ever thrown to me before,” Elledge said. “He does throw some nice balls.”
That confidence goes both ways. Besides the security blanket of knowing he has an experienced skill player to throw it too, Becerra has been approached by Elledge a number of times in camp and received little tips. “What he does is if he sees a weakness in a corner or safety he’ll say ‘I’m going to do this and then watch for this,’ ” Becerra said. “So he’ll change up his routes a little bit and coach me up on it. We have a good connection.”
The funny thing is Elledge nearly didn’t end up at Glacier Peak. After watching his brothers go through the Monroe football program, Elledge transferred to Glacier Peak as a freshman and never looked back.
The 6-foot, 195 pound receiver isn’t a burner, but he’s become the precise route-runner his former teammates preached about. He’s also a bear to take down. Often Elledge will make a catch in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage and shoot through crowds of players only to emerge on the other side upright and still churning (see highlights below). Sometimes that can be a double-edged sword.
“The biggest thing is keeping him healthy,” said Rosenbach. “He takes a beating because he doesn’t go down, you know he breaks tackles and gets out of stuff, and he goes full out and puts his body in awkward spots.”
Arguably Elledge makes just as big or bigger impact on the defensive side of the ball and special teams. A two-time first-team All-Wesco defensive back, Elledge can shut down an opponent’s wideout, make a big hit, come off the edge to sack a quarterback or, as he’s done a number of times, block a punt or field goal.
“I like to score touchdowns and run the ball, but I also like to hit people,” said Elledge.
For Glacier Peak, which gave eventual state champion Bellevue all it wanted and more in the first round of the state playoffs last season, the Tacoma Dome is the goal, said Elledge. If the Grizzlies want to get there they’ll have to survive a brutal stretch of four straight 4A teams to open the season, including Bothell, which is ranked No. 6 in the Tacoma News Tribune preseason poll.
But Rosenbach doesn’t see the tough schedule as something to survive, but rather something his team can build on.
“We’ll have to battle and claw,” Rosenbach said of the early slate. “But these are games against touch opponents in playoff atmospheres. So when they get in those situations in Week 6, Week 8 they don’t have a problem.”
That opponent in Week 8, by the way, Meadowdale.