EVERETT — Making adjustments is one of the key components to being a successful football coach. Friday night, Glacier Peak head coach Rory Rosenbach put his ability to do just that on display in the Grizzlies’ 49-35 victory over the Jackson Timberwolves.
The Grizzlies trailed 28-18 at halftime and their defense was struggling to stop Jackson’s potent offense. In the second half, the only thing that looked the same for Glacier Peak was its uniforms.
The Grizzlies outscored the Timberwolves 28-0 in the third quarter to turn a 10-point deficit into an 18-point lead.
“We didn’t make as many mistakes,” Rosenbach said about his team’s play in the second half. “We started tackling better and we put our guys in a better position to make plays on defense. We got a little pressure on their quarterback, which was good.
“The first half we just let some of those guys run free. We had a linebacker on their best player and we can’t have that. So we fixed that. And offensively we just stayed with the gameplan, which was running the ball at them.”
The Grizzlies’ improved defense forced a dramatic decrease in production for Jackson. The Timberwolves passed for 275 yards in the first half, but managed just 92 in the second half.
Rosenbach said the key was getting their best cornerbacks covering Keynan Foster and Trey Robinson, two of Jackson’s fastest receivers. Rosenbach also rotated his outside linebackers into some underneath coverage, helping to take away the seam, hitch and slant playss that had worked so well for the Timberwolves in the first two quarters.
With the defense clicking, quarterback Branson Corwin provided the offensive spark the Grizzlies needed, rushing for 85 yards on 10 carries, highlighted by a 19-yard touchdown run, after halftime.
“We just stuck with the gameplan,” Rosenbach said. “(Assistant coach Nick) Bender is up in the box yelling, ‘Run it, run the ball, stay with the gameplan.’ And we did and we just kept wearing them down and finding our creases.”
Corwin said he was seeing the holes better in the second half.
“I think I just had better vision and better blocking up front,” Corwin said. “I have to give credit to my O-line. They are doing well this season so far. They are not letting guys get back there and they’re really protecting me.”
For as dominant as Glacier Peak was after halftime, Jackson was equally as dominant in the first half. It took just four plays before Timberwolves quarterback Alex Cheesman connected with Robinson for a 68-yard touchdown.
The Grizzlies responded moments later with a 43-yard touchdown run by Austin Hines. After a two-point conversion, the Grizzlies had their first lead at 8-7.
The next Jackson drive stalled when Cheesman was intercepted by Glacier Peak’s Andrew McCoy. The Grizzlies took advantage of the turnover with a 53-yard field goal by Spencer Pettit. The kicker’s second field goal of 52 yards or more in the past three weeks gave the Grizzlies an 11-7 lead.
“That would have been good from 60,” Rosenbach said. “Anytime it’s 35-(yard line) or in, I feel like we’re good. If there is wind I might think about it, but … he had the wind at his back, so to me that’s a no-brainer.
“He’s a weapon.”
The Timberwolves’ offense dominated the remainder of the first half. On their next possession, Cheesman needed just two completions to Foster to get Jackson in the end zone again. The first a modest 10-yard completion. The second a 70-yarder that went for a score and showed Foster’s outstanding speed.
After forcing the Grizzlies to punt, Jackson put together a seven-play 97-yard touchdown drive, capped by Nick White’s 3-yard touchdown run that gave the Timberwolves a 21-11 lead.
With momentum shifting in Jackson’s favor, Glacier Peak answered with its best drive of the half, going 53 yards in nine plays and culminating in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Brady Southard to Cole McFadden.
White immediately answered for Jackson with a 48-yard touchdown run just two offensive plays later. That pushed the Timberwolves’s lead to 28-18.
The Timberwolves were outscored 31-7 the rest of the way.
Kaianoa Wong, Corwin and Hines each had touchdown runs and Nick Allan caught a touchdown pass from Corwin as the Grizzlies scored 28 unanswered points in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies’ offense helped keep the ball away from Jackson with long sustained drives.
“I didn’t feel like we had to score every time, but we had to keep them from having the ball,” Corwin said. “Keeping them from having the ball on offense was our goal tonight.”
The Grizzlies accomplished that goal for a half, but it proved to be enough for the victory.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Glacier Peak 11 7 28 3 — 49
Jackson 21 7 0 7 — 35
J–Trey Robinson 68 pass from Alex Cheesman (Michael Zeng kick)
GP–Austin Hines 43 run (Justin Guffey pass from Branson Corwin)
GP–Pettit 53 FG
J–Keynan Foster 70 pass from Cheesman (Zeng kick)
J–Nick White 3 run (Zeng kick)
GP–Cole McFadden 23 pass from Brady Southard (Pettit kick)
J–White 48 run (Zeng kick)
GP–Kaianoa Wong 11 run (Pettit kick)
GP–Nick Allan 18 pass from Corwin (Pettit kick)
GP–Corwin 19 run (Pettit kick)
GP–Hines 12 run (Pettit kick)
GP–Pettit 27 FG
J–Alek Baumgartner 6 pass from Cheesman (Zeng kick)
Records–Glacier Peak 3-0, Jackson 2-1.