Grizzlies reload on the fly

Cooper looks to sophomore signal caller to lead Granite Bay
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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For most teams, losing all 22 starters from the prior season would be disastrous, but at Granite Bay High School, the business of reloading is just part of the process. Combine a clean sweep of the starting units with a schedule of powerhouse opponents and you have the recipe for an exciting non-league slate for the Grizzly football team. Cooper will look to a number of players who saw significant playing time last season to lead the way, particularly on the defense. Free safety Andrew Knapp and inside linebacker Mike Wade both played prominent roles in Granite Bay’s 2008 playoff battle with eventual state title game winner Grant, and both will be looked to for leadership this season. When the Grizzlies have the ball, split end Ian Rhodes is the most experienced player. He caught 10 balls a year ago, but it was the one that did not count that is more memorable. “Ian Rhodes made a huge catch during the final drive against Grant on a play that was wiped out,” Cooper said. “He is a 6-foot-4 kid who has worked extremely hard and will have a huge year for us.” The task of finding Rhodes will fall to sophomore Brendan Keeney out of the gate. For the first time ever, the Grizzlies are handing the reins to a sophomore, and looking for big things out of the 6-2, 190-pound signal caller. “Brendan has a great arm and a commanding presence in the pocket,” Cooper said. Granite Bay has the added luxury of a talented running back behind Keeney. Devaunte Bolton is a 5-10, 205-pound speedster who Cooper is expecting to have a great year. The schedule is another thing that will truly test Granite Bay’s inexperienced team. “Our goal is to play the best preseason schedule we can, week in and week out,” Cooper said. “We tell our guys that there are no sure wins in non-league games because there are no sure wins once we get into the Sierra Foothill League schedule. “We want to see as much speed on offense and defense as we can see,” he added. “You can’t emulate that in practice and we want to see fast running backs and fast receivers and fast defensive backs. That elevates our level of play.” He might be replacing all 22 of his starters, but history shows that Cooper is sure to have this group ready to play from day one.