Grizzlies brutal preseason schedule starts Saturday

Granite Bay meets Bay Area power in Battle of the Capitol
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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When the Sac-Joaquin Section released its new playoff format for the 2009 season, designed to move in the direction of the final system slated for implementation in 2010, there was no time for a mulligan. “When they announced the playoff plan, this year’s schedules had already been done,” said Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper. At-large berths and seeding in the new playoff structure will be determined by a team’s overall record, so while the expanded pool of teams and the grouping by school size are certainly improvements, the system does have some teams grumbling. “We’re being proactive with that, and we’ll get it fixed,” Cooper said. “If that part sticks, you’ll see a lot of us scheduling maybe one tough game, but not playing those teams week in and week out.” For now, the Grizzlies enter the season with another monster schedule, which opens at the Battle of the Capital, a four-game event today at Folsom High School. The season-opening showcase features four Sacramento area teams against Bay Area powers. Granite Bay’s 2 p.m. kickoff against Pittsburg features two powerful programs. The Grizzlies come off a 9-2 campaign in which they gave eventual state bowl champion Grant all it could handle it a first-round playoff game. Pittsburg was 11-2 a year ago, and lost its final playoff game a year ago to legendary power De La Salle, and has a fairly recent win over that team on its record. This is a true test for a very young Granite Bay team in the process of replacing all 22 of its starters on both sides of the ball. Sophomore Brendan Keeney gets the start at quarterback for the Grizzlies, and he understands the reasons behind the difficult slate of non-league games. “With this group of players, we get an edge from playing tough teams,” Keeney said. “It gives us confidence going into league.” This matchup will surely test the young signal caller right out of the gate as Granite Bay looks to start its season out on a strong note. FYI: Battle of the Capitol Game No. 2 Granite Bay vs. Pittsburg Folsom High Stadium 2 p.m. Saturday Televised live on Comcast Sports Net