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Grizzlies enter playoffs on a roll

Opener a rematch of 2007 first-round matchup
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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There were few surprises for Granite Bay High football coach Ernie Cooper when the Division II playoff brackets were released on Saturday. His fifth-seeded Grizzlies open the postseason off of three straight impressive wins after two close losses to open their Sierra Foothill League schedule. As he looks across the sideline Friday night, Cooper will see a familiar playoff foe. Two years ago, when his team won the section championship, the Grizzlies opened that playoff run with a home win over Sacramento, a team coached by former NFL tight end Doug Cosbie. This season, Granite Bay hopes that opener carries the same magic as the Dragons are coming to town once again. “In looking at them on tape, this team looks very similar to their 2007 team,” Cooper said. “They have a bunch of 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2, 180 to 210-pound guys who fill out a uniform, and can run around and play.” Cooper is a methodical preparation guy, and he has great respect for the way Cosbie gets his team ready to play. Sacramento (6-4) won the games it was supposed to win this year, and lost to teams that were just better than the Dragons. “Doug does a great job with his pro-style offense,” Cooper said. “Every defense has a weak spot, and last time he found ours and exploited it early. We have to recognize those areas and prepare to keep that from happening again.” While Cooper feels Sacramento has personnel that are similar to his team, experience is a big advantage for the Grizzlies. This is the third playoff appearance for the Dragons, who had yet to win a postseason game, while Granite Bay is in the tournament for the 11th consecutive season. Granite Bay approaches each season in three parts, and Cooper takes his team back to the basics at the beginning of each phase (non-league, first league game, playoff opener). The Grizzlies will get back to the basics of tackling, blocking to get away from any sloppiness that may have crept into their game. “There is no guarantee of a next week at this point,’ Cooper said. “We will be on their tail all week to stay focused on this game and this week.” Granite Bay is reasonably healthy heading into the postseason. The Grizzlies lean heavily on the running game, with Devaunte Bolton as the main ball carrier and Matt Kine splitting time with Cory Brehm at the flyback position. Ian Rhodes was the lone pass catcher for Granite Bay last week against Woodcreek as sophomore Brendan Keeney has locked in on the senior’s ability to make plays in the passing game. Even when everyone knows the ball is coming his way, Rhodes makes plays. The Grizzlies’ greatest asset may be its sensational defense, which has been very good all year, even shutting down high-powered Rocklin for most of the night when those two teams met. Jacob Kludjian is a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage, joining with Mike Wade to make life difficult for opposing offenses. Andrew Knapp and the Granite Bay secondary will play a major role against the Dragons as well. “We need to make sure their small plays don’t turn into big plays,” Cooper said. “We can’t get frustrated when they pick up seven or eight yards on one play and we need to keep them in that range.” The winner of the game will face the winner of the Folsom vs. Woodcreek matchup next week. FYI: Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football playoffs Friday night first round matchup No. 12 Sacramento (6-4) at No. 5 Granite Bay (8-2), 7 p.m. at Granite Bay High School