Eds, note: Herald writer David Krueger visited Glacier Peak camp on Saturday morning.
What’s new? The offense.
Glacier Peak graduated a good portion of its offense last season, including first-team all-conference selections Chris Becerra (quarterback), Michael Palmer (running back) and Sean Elledge (receiver).
However, like any successful program, the Grizzlies have players waiting in the wings, ready to step up on Friday nights.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces. Especially on offense,” said Glacier Peak head coach Rory Rosenbach. “We’ve got a couple guys back on the line and one of the receivers is back. But the nice thing is the rest of those guys on the line and at the running back and receiver position have played a lot of varsity football. They maybe didn’t start, but they rotated in and they played meaningful downs. They’ve had Friday night looks.”
There are still battles for starting spots at receiver and quarterback, with the latter consisting of a three-man race to replace Becerra. Rosenbach said he doesn’t really have a timetable of when a decision might be made.
“I’d like to have it figured out now but you don’t,” Rosenbach said. “Maybe it’s next week, maybe it’s game week. Maybe it’s week three. We’ll see.”
Returning all-conference players
First team—Nick Hensley (Sr., Offensive Line), Kaianoa Wong (Sr., Defensive Back), Mosese Fifita (Jr., Defensive Line). Honorable Mention—Trey Chambers (Sr., Defensive Back).
Player to watch: Nick Hensley, Sr., OL/DL
The first-team All-Wesco 3A offensive lineman is once again helping to shape the identity of a tough, Glacier Peak team.
“He’s picked up where he left off,” Rosenbach said. “He’s the identity of that offense. … The identity and the attitude that he brings, the other guys have kind of fed off of that. He’s a tenacious guy. He gets after it all. You’ve got to kind of hold him back sometimes in practice.”
And, much to the chagrin of the Grizzlies’ opponents, Hensley isn’t just limiting himself to getting after it on offense alone.
“And he’s doing the same thing on defense,” Rosenbach said.
Hensley is one of a few returners on the line for Glacier Peak. Rosenbach said that having a solid portion of the line return, has helped negate some of the other departures the Grizzlies face this season.
“When you have continuity up front it’s easy to fit the other pieces,” Rosenbach said. “If you don’t have that you’re going to be in trouble. So for us, that’s a great place to start.”
Fresh Faces: Leon Elliott, Sr., WR and Justin Guffey, So., S
With plenty of options at quarterback, the Grizzlies moved Elliott, a backup for Becerra last year, to receiver for the 2013 season.
So far, it looks like the right move.
“He has just taken to the position amazingly,” Rosenbach said. “He’s picked up that piece of the offense. He catches everything, competes and works his tail off.”
On the defensive side, Rosenbach said there were several fresh faces including defensive end Josh Elvig and Brannen Johnston, who is also switching positions from safety to linebacker. Moving Johnston may have freed up a spot for Guffey, who has burst onto the scene as a sophomore and looks to get significant playing time at the position.
“He’s kind of that sophomore that’s made the quickest transition to varsity football playing safety and competing as a receiver,” Rosenbach said. “He’s battling for one of those safety spots. He’s going to be in our rotation at safety and do a good job.”
Glacier Peak has a lot of spots to fill, but as Rosenbach said, that’s common with high school programs. Rosenbach seems confident in his guys — so much so that the Grizzlies ordered brand new uniforms — and once position battles are locked up Glacier Peak should be ready to go.
Having the bulk of the offensive and defensive lines return is a huge positive, and with big offseason obstacles at Meadowdale (new coach) and Mountlake Terrace (injury to Devante Downs), Glacier Peak just might have enough to repeat as conference champs.
“I think there’s a lot more parity in the league this year,” Rosenbach said. “So every week’s going to be a battle. But I like our chances if we continue to gel as a team and compete every week we’ve got a chance to be in every game and be playing for a league championship again.”