By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Glacier Peak: Kicker Spencer Pettit gives the Grizzlies a clear advantage on special teams. He is a legitimate threat to make anything 55 yards and closer and has made kicks from 52 and 53 yards already this season.
On kickoffs, Pettit gets the ball in the end zone for a touchback over 75 percent of the time which gives the Grizzlies a huge advantage by not allowing teams to have the opportunity for good starting field position with an explosive kick return.
When the Grizzlies do allow a kick return, or have to punt to the opponent, head coach Rory Rosenbach has been pleased with the coverage.
“I think we’ve been very solid and very steady,” Rosenbach said. “I think other than one or two breakdowns throughout the course of the year we’ve been pretty good. We take the time to make special teams important.”
The Grizzlies had a breakdown against Bothell, giving up a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but that was their only major mistake of the season.
Meadowdale: Junior kicker Brett Schafer and senior punter Taylor Linton have been consistent for the Mavericks this season.
Mavericks coach Mike Don said Schafer hit some big kicks for his team early in the season and he is confident in his kicker’s abilities from 45 yards and in. Don said Schafer consistently gets the ball down around the 1 or 2-yard line on kickoffs and occasionally gets them into the end zone.
Linton is averaging nearly 40 yards per punt and Don said the Mavericks have been outstanding on punt coverage all season, not giving up any big plays. The kickoff coverage hasn’t been quite up to the level of the punt coverage, but Don said “we’ve done OK.”
Advantage: Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak: Head coach Rory Rosenbach’s resume speaks for itself. As head coach of Marist High School in Oregon he won two state championships and after taking over Glacier Peak in 2008, the school’s inaugural year, the Grizzlies have made the playoffs each season.
Rosenbach has proven time and time again that he isn’t afraid to take chances and has shown an impeccable knack for making in-game adjustments. Earlier this season, his team was getting dominated in the first half against Jackson, trailing 28-18 at halftime. Rosenbach rallied the troops and the Grizzlies outscored the Timberwolves 31-7 in the second half to win 49-35.
In each of his six seasons as the Glacier Peak head coach he has shown the ability to take a new group of kids and plug them into his system without missing a beat.
Meadowdale: Mavericks head coach Mike Don didn’t have quite the success that Rosenbach had in his previous endeavors. In two seasons at Lynnwood he compiled a 4-16 record and in one season at Brewster High School he finished 2-7.
Still, the Mavericks hired Don after former head coach Mark Stewart left for Garfield High School, and the move has paid off. The Mavericks haven’t missed a beat and Don has his team back in the playoffs competing for a Wesco championship once again.
“It’s a great school,” he said. “It’s been a really good culture and the kids have been awesome. I really inherited a really good coaching staff too. They have been really helpful making sure things stay on track.”
Advantage: Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak: The Grizzlies have shown that they are vulnerable against the pass, but are stout against the run, which figures to help them as they move forward in the postseason.
Rosenbach’s defensive philosophy differs from that of some coaches, focusing most of his attention on turnovers.
“It’s about getting the ball back for the offense on defense,” Rosenbach said. “Take the ball. Get the ball back. That’s what defense is about. It’s not to stop the other team.”
That said, the Grizzlies have been somewhat inconsistent, holding Shorecrest, Shorewood and Mountlake Terrace to 14 points or less, but allowing at least 20 in every other game.
Meadowdale: Like the Grizzlies, the Mavericks are strong against the run. Unlike the Grizzlies, Meadowdale doesn’t allow very many points. The Mavericks gave up 48 to Eastlake last Friday, Edmonds-Woodway scored 20 against them in Week 3 and Kamiak had 14 in Week 1. Mavericks’ opponents have scored in single digits in every other game.
Led by linebacker Jimmie Bruders, defensive back Josiah Evans and defensive lineman JoJo Alkhedairy, the defense doesn’t appear to have a weakness.
Glacier Peak: The Grizzlies offense is different than in years past, relying much more on the running game than in previous years. Rosenbach implemented the change largely due to the different skill-set of his current personnel.
Running the ball might eat at Rosenbach some, he has traditionally shown himself to be a pass-first coach, but the team’s record can help him rest easier.
“I like to score a lot of points and win games,” Rosenbach said. “I like to throw the ball, but I like to score points and win games more than I like to throw the ball.”
Quarterback Branson Corwin is always a threat to run and when he does throw he spreads the ball around well. Josh Pinca and Matthew Darling give the Grizzlies two additional threats out of the backfield.
Meadowdale: The Meadowdale offense features the connection of quarterback Jeremiah Evans and his twin brother Josiah Evans as well as the 8.2 yards-per-carry average of running back Malik Braxton.
Don hasn’t had to ask a lot out of his passing game, but Jeremiah Evans has shown the ability to step up when needed, throwing for nearly 250 yards against Shorewood.
Don implemented more of a spread offense this season, though not a traditional spread the coach said. The Mavericks are certainly more balanced than they’ve been in the past, averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground and around 150 yards through the air.
Who has done what better all season doesn’t matter all that much when these two teams get together. They have been the class of the Wesco 3A south for several seasons and this year was no different. The Mavericks advantage in offense and defense is closer than the gap Glacier Peak enjoys over the Mavericks on special teams and Rosenbach will certainly have a gameplan to slow down the Mavericks’ dual-threat offense.
The game is likely to come down to the wire, but in the end Meadowdale’s defense will be too much.
Meadowdale 28, Glacier Peak 25