Glacier Peak loses star QB in season-ending loss to Eastlake

Ayden Ziomas left the game injured in the first half. The Grizzlies fell 25-9 in the playoffs.

SNOHOMISH — Glacier Peak loves distributing the football to its many playmakers. The Grizzlies all year have proven they have so many ways to beat defenses.

But four-year starting quarterback Ayden Ziomas was one piece GP couldn’t afford to lose.

Locked in a low-scoring, one-possession game in the first half, Ziomas finally had his offense clicking as the Grizzles neared Eastlake’s red zone. Ziomas dropped back to pass and scrambled to his right to avoid pressure on a second-and-8 on the Wolves’ 30. The Glacier Peak senior was hit from behind, and as he was sacked for the fifth time he tried to break his fall with his left arm. He got up before quickly dropping to his knees. Ziomas held his arm as medical staff came to his attention.

Just like that, a state tournament berth was seemingly stripped from the Grizzlies.

“He’s a four-year starter and all of a sudden you have to worry about the emotions of the kids,” said GP coach Nick Bender of Ziomas’ injury. “You are hoping the kids will bounce back, but sometimes things don’t roll the way you want them to.”

The Glacier Peak offense that averaged 44.4 points per game during the regular season was nonexistent after Ziomas’ departure, and the Grizzlies suffered a 25-9 season-ending loss to Kingco’s Eastlake in the Class 4A Week 10 playoffs on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Ziomas was 9 of 12 for 93 yards before he left. Glacier Peak (8-2) turned to sophomore quarterback Ryan Kinney, who completed 1-of-11 passes for 7 yards and an interception. Third-string QB Tyson Lang replaced Kinney late in the fourth and marched GP on a scoring drive that ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Evan Mannes as the game clock expired. Lang threw for 75 yards on 5-of-7 passing.

Glacier Peak’s defense kept the Grizzles in the game, coming up with several crucial red-zone stops, but Eastlake dual-threat quarterback Grady Robison still accounted for three scores.

Robison finished with 93 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries, and the junior completed 16-of-26 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

Eastlake led 7-3 at halftime, but the Wolves scored 11 points in a 1:11 span early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

“I’m beyond proud with the entire program,” Bender said. “… The kids really bought into everything that we were selling, so hopefully this is the start of something great.”

IMPACT

After finishing second in Wesco 4A, the loss ends Glacier Peak’s season and brings to an end the career of 23 roster-listed seniors. This is the second straight year the Grizzlies haven’t reach state after advancing to the quarterfinals in 2016. Eastlake (8-2) is back in the state tournament for the fourth time in the past five years.

TOP PERFORMERS

Grady Robison, Eastlake. The Wolves junior quarterback showed an impressive blend of speed, elusiveness and passing ability. He churned out 93 rushing yards and scored from 22 yards away on a read-option keeper. His ability to extend plays with his legs allowed him to find open Eastlake receivers downfield. Robison threw for 176 yards and two TDs.

Evan Mannes, Glacier Peak. Mannes scored GP’s only touchdown — a 33-yard heave from Lang as time expired. The 6-foot-5 standout receiver hauled in four passes for 74 yards, but he also made several huge hits from his safety position.

QUOTABLES

“I think the defense did a good job. They gave us tons of opportunities. We just weren’t able to capitalize off them, so the result is the result.” — Glacier Peak coach Nick Bender

“The funny thing about (Ziomas) being out of the game is that he was who we scouted. With him in the game we were ready. The minute he went out, it was like, ‘OK, what are they going to do?’ I told our guys at halftime, ‘Fellas, this has turned into a full-out brawl, because it is going to be at the line of scrimmage now. So you are going to have to strap up your pads a little tighter because people are going to get after you.’” — Eastlake coach Don Bartel

TURNING POINT

Glacier Peak trailed just 7-3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter even with Ziomas leaving the game in an arm sling. Eastlake kicked a 27-yard field goal to take a 10-3 lead with 11:55 to play, but a blocked punt after Glacier Peak went three-and-out proved catastrophic. Eastlake got the ball at GP’s 20, and on the next play Robison threw a 20-yard TD pass to extend the Wolves’ lead to 18-3.

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