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Jesuit ends a resilient Granite Bay football campaign

By: Nick Pecoraro
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GRANITE BAY– The Granite Bay football team could have made plenty of excuses in 2018.

A team that was senior-heavy with plenty of experience was expected to compete for a Sac-Joaquin Section championship repeat. Instead, injuries and early losses deflated the Grizzlies’ momentum during a stretch where most teams would have folded.

But not these Grizzlies.

There were no excuses – not even after a season-ending, 42-0 defeat at the hands of visiting No. 5 Jesuit in the Division II section quarterfinal.

“We had about 10 opportunities this season, but we didn’t quit,” said Granite Bay head coach Jeff Evans. “Our guys gave us everything.”

Jesuit flexed its muscle with major college-bound prospects leading the way. Isaiah Rutherford, who recently committed to Notre Dame, scored on runs of 40, 47 and 52 yards, and Laiatu Latu, who has drawn heavy interest from the Pac-12, scored on a short dive to push the Marauders past the Grizzlies and into the semifinals.

“When you play really good teams like Jesuit, things like these happen,” said Evans. “They were the better team. They got after us from start to finish, top to bottom, right to left, players and coaches. I tip my cap to them.”

Jesuit scored 35 first-half points on the Grizzlies, who finish their 2018 campaign at 5-6, having played well enough in the regular season to convince the playoff selection committee to give them a first-round bye as a No. 4 seed.

Granite Bay went 3-3, which was tied for third place in a gauntlet of a Sierra Foothill League. After starting 2-4, the Grizzlies proved that they were no pushover, rebounding from tough losses with resilient victories throughout the course of the season.

An 0-2 start was met with a 27-12 victory at Jesuit Aug. 30. and a 31-0 romp over Vacaville at home the following week. A 63-7 drubbing from top-ranked Folsom led to a postseason-saving 25-24 overtime victory over Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills the next week.

“Most people would say that this was a down year for Granite Bay,” Evans said. “But the biggest word I would use is ‘perseverance’. We all wanted to win championships and playoff games. But as coaches, we see our kids grow and fight. It’s all part of the process. We’re very proud of our guys.”

The Grizzlies were led by All-SFL linebackers Jacob Ellis and Matt Fowler, offensive lineman Joe Young and kicker Everett Hayes.

Quarterback TJ Robertson filled in under center very nicely while Chase Garmon, Anthony Martin and Tristan Lee paced the Grizzlies rushing attack.

A plethora of juniors emerged for the Grizzlies as well, including Ty Peterson, who led the team in interceptions and receiving, Cobe Weeks, who has drawn Pac-12 interest of his own, and defensive stoppers Caleb Judd, Nick Richmond and Kai Singleton.