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Grizzlies QB comes out firing

Three-year starter Brendan Keeney looks sharp as season opener at Reed nears
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Granite Bay High School, admittedly, kept its “Meet the Grizzlies” scrimmage “very vanilla” Thursday night, head coach Ernie Cooper said.

The Grizzlies ran basic plays on offense, stayed basic on defense, sought to emerge with no injuries and even held out dinged-up senior Michael Bertolino, their outstanding flyback.

Even so, it was hard to ignore the performance of senior quarterback Brendan Keeney. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound three-year starter had Granite Bay’s offense humming like a new car on an eight-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to open the scrimmage. Keeney was 3 for 3 on the march, including two completions to Adam Wagner totaling 20 yards. Their eight-yard connection set up Arik Bird’s two-yard scoring run.

Keeney passed for 2,520 yards and 33 touchdowns in helping the Grizzlies advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals last season. He looked ready for Friday’s season opener against Reed in Sparks, Nev.

Keeney hit 6-4, 230-pound senior tight end Spencer Briare on the run along the back line of the end zone for a touchdown and then connected with Wagner for a score.

“(Wagner) and Brendan got something going that you just can’t coach … so we’re going to have fun with those two,” Cooper said. “Brendan had some very nice throws. He was very sharp.”

Cooper said Bertolino will be “ready to rock” Friday. Senior flyback Ian Mook rocked Thursday, totaling 25 yards on his first three carries.

Oregon State commit Gavin Andrews (6-6, 320) anchors a big, experienced offensive line. Strong tackle Koki Arai (6-1, 240) is a two-year starter, and Colton Sviba is the center. All are seniors.

“You go wherever your ‘O’ line and ‘D’ line go,” Cooper said. “If our ‘O’ line and ‘D’ line are strong, we have a chance. You saw a couple plays it was just a power play right up ‘A’ gap and just said we’re running right here and we’re going to blow it up in there.”

The defensive line is nearly assembled and includes senior Ben Craig and junior JR Calton. Craig saw significant playing time last season. Seniors and juniors are battling for other spots.

“We’re very close on the ‘D’ line,” Cooper said. “We just have to make sure we have everybody in the right spot.”

SEASON SCHEDULE

Date      Opponent
Aug. 26   at Reed (Sparks, Nev.)
Sept. 2    ST. MARY’S
Sept. 9    CLOVIS EAST
Sept. 16  at Vacaville
Sept. 23  Idle
Sept. 30  at Pittsburg
Oct. 7     *NEVADA UNION
Oct. 14   *WOODCREEK
Oct. 21   *at Del Oro
Oct. 28   *ROCKLIN
Nov. 4     *at Roseville

All varsity games begin at 7:30 p.m. except Reed (TBD) and Pittsburg (7 p.m.).
*-Sierra Foothill League games

Next: No scrimmage for the Grizzlies this weekend. Head coach Ernie Cooper said summer camp and two weeks of practice have produced enough hitting, so Granite Bay will use the time to stay healthy.