Glacier Peak quarterback Ayden Ziomas hands off the ball during practice Sept. 27, 2017, at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak quarterback Ayden Ziomas hands off the ball during practice Sept. 27, 2017, at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak star QB has chip on his shoulder

Junior Ayden Ziomas may be small, but he’s putting up huge numbers for the 3-1 Grizzlies.

SNOHOMISH — Listed at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, Ayden Ziomas doesn’t quite match the physical prototype of an elite high school quarterback.

But the Glacier Peak star certainly passes the eye test on the field.

The dual-threat junior quarterback is off to a spectacular start this season, having totaled 1,615 yards and 20 touchdowns through four games.

Ziomas has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,275 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also has rushed for 340 yards and five scores heading into Friday night’s Wesco 4A showdown at eighth-ranked Monroe.

“I always have something to prove, being the smaller guy,” Ziomas said. “I see a lot of other great quarterbacks getting a bunch of looks and getting a lot of attention. … But I think I just get overlooked because I’m not the biggest guy — I’m not like the ideal size.

“So I just kind of have to play with a chip on my shoulder and show everyone that I can be that next-level guy.”

Ziomas garnered attention over the summer when he was ranked fifth out of 35 quarterbacks at the prestigious invitation-only Northwest 9 camp, which featured the region’s top high school signal-callers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

“He’s arguably the best quarterback in the (Snohomish County) area,” said Monroe coach Michael Bumpus, a former Washington State University standout receiver who briefly played for the Seattle Seahawks.

“He can (make) every throw you’d ask of a high school quarterback. And he’s the most athletic quarterback in our area — if not the state.”

What Ziomas lacks in size, he makes up for with talent, athleticism, experience and football intelligence.

“It’s almost like he’s a coach on the field,” second-year Glacier Peak coach Nick Bender said. “His football mind is just above and beyond the average high school kid.

“We run a pretty complex (offensive) system,” Bender added. “But he’s mastered it, and the statistics don’t lie. He’s just kind of taken off and run with it.”

Ziomas’ knowledge of the game stems from his years of experience, having played quarterback since first grade. As an eighth grader, he quarterbacked his Ford Sports Performance 7-on-7 team to a national championship in Las Vegas.

“Playing against that kind of skill level and competition, I really got to see (some of) the best athletes from around the country,” Ziomas said. “And I think that helped me.

“I was so used to that speed and that kind of athleticism that when I got back here, I was already a step ahead of the game. I just felt a little more prepared for the high school speed and transitioning to that (level).”

Ziomas earned the starting-quarterback role in the fourth week of his freshman season and has started for Glacier Peak ever since.

“Sometimes you just (can) see that there’s something there in a kid,” said Bender, who was an assistant with the Grizzlies when Ziomas entered the program as a freshman.

After helping Glacier Peak to the Class 3A state quarterfinals in his freshman season, Ziomas threw for 2,436 yards, 33 touchdowns and six interceptions during a strong sophomore campaign.

This year, Ziomas has taken his game to the next level by making major strides as a runner. He got considerably faster this offseason through speed and footwork training, cutting his 40-yard dash time to 4.5 seconds after clocking 5.1 seconds as a freshman, Bender said.

The results have been strikingly evident on the field. Just four games into the season, Ziomas has already surpassed his total rushing yardage from last season.

That added dimension has made him even more of a nightmare for opposing defenses.

“Now he’s a (dual) threat, and a running quarterback is tough on a defense,” Bender said. “It’s a hard thing to account for.”

In addition, Ziomas has showcased devastating elusiveness in the pocket.

“Defenses can send the most exotic pressures, and he just has an ability (to) get out of those tough situations,” Bender said.

Ziomas also has improved his completion percentage by more than 13 points from last season.

“I’ve really been trying to kind of discipline myself to take what the defense gives me,” Ziomas said. “I don’t always need to just go big every play. If there’s a five-yard pass and he’s open, then I’ll just hit that. … I’m just kind of focusing on taking what’s there.”

Ziomas has spread the wealth across his receiving corps, as four different Grizzlies have at least one 100-yard receiving game this season.

“Ayden does a great job going through his reads,” Bender said. “A lot of times with high school quarterbacks, you try to make it as simple as possible — read one guy, throw opposite of that one guy.

“With Ayden, we can go a lot more complex. … It’s almost like he’s playing the game in slow motion sometimes, the way he just sees things.”

Ziomas’ elite talent was on full display in this past Friday’s thrilling double-overtime comeback win over Jackson, when he accounted for 563 total yards and seven touchdowns.

With Glacier Peak trailing by eight points late in the fourth quarter, Ziomas led the Grizzlies downfield and forced overtime with a touchdown pass and game-tying two-point conversion run.

Bender praised the quarterback for his poise under pressure.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the kid fazed,” he said.

Ziomas then lifted Glacier Peak to victory in the overtime periods, needing just two plays to score two touchdowns. He threw a game-tying 30-yard touchdown pass in the first overtime, followed by a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second overtime that proved to be the game-winner.

“Both of those throws weren’t his first progressions — they weren’t his (first) reads,” Bender said. “He saw what was happening with the coverage and he was able to hit two 25-to-30 yard throws for touchdowns right away.

“He makes us as coaches appear a lot smarter than we are sometimes.”

Bender said the coaching staff has progressively given Ziomas more and more freedom on the field.

After keeping things simple for him as a freshman, they gave him the ability last year to audible a receiver’s route if he saw something in coverage. This season, Bender said Ziomas almost has “free reign” on the field.

“If (the defense) isn’t in what we think they’re going to be in and he sees something, he can check the play, he can change the play (or) he can change multiple receivers,” Bender said.

At some point, Bender might simply stand back and watch Ziomas direct the offense on his own.

“I think from a football standpoint, he’s just going to continue to grow,” Bender said. “I think there’s going to be some point in time where I just say, ‘You have this whole drive — you call the offense.’ He’s that smart of a football player.

“I think the sky is the limit for the kid.”

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