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Grizzlies set to defend title

Cooper proclaims SFL strong from top to bottom
By: Tom Kellar, Press-Tribune Sports Editor
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It’s the beginning of a new school year, football season is about to commence at Granite Bay high school and that can mean only one thing – Ernie Cooper is in the house. The Grizzlies head coach, a man who has headed the Granite Bay football program since its inception, is coming off arguably his greatest season as a head coach after leading his Grizzlies to a 2007 Sac Joaquin Div. II section championship, this despite watching his team lose twice in its first six games, 40-21 to Vacaville and 33-0 to Sierra Foothill League rival Rocklin. Cooper was able to regroup his team after the Rocklin debacle and the Grizzlies then reeled off seven straight victories, winning an SFL title and humiliating Del Oro in the section title game, 49-14. This season the Grizzlies come into the season with a giant target on their backs, but given the success the team has had in the past, Cooper is used to opponents getting up for his squad. “When our school was first created, we were the ones chasing the teams with the targets on their backs, I remember those days,” Cooper said. “But the last time I said that was about 1997 or 98, so we’ve had the target on our back for 10 years straight. I’m glad its there and I’m glad that we’ve had success and that our kids have sacrificed to get better. We know that every single team we play this year would like to knock us off and that we’ll get everybody’s best game.” On defense Cooper will look for veteran leadership from cornerback Corey Vanderbeek, defensive linemen Colton Pauhlus and Thomas Haney and inside linebacker Ryan Loder. Offensively Cooper hopes for big things from fullback Clark Partridge, quarterback Teddy Bryant, offensive lineman Eddie Thomas, halfback Brad Crisanty, flyback Matt Kine, tight end AJ Herlitz and wide out Austin Nash. Cooper is a master of diplomacy when discussing his team’s chances in the tough SFL, and this year is no different, Cooper definitely concerned with the league schedule from the beginning. “We start off with Del Oro, then we play Rocklin, then we play Roseville,” Cooper said. “Those are three great teams and I’m going to be honest with you, I think Oakmont and Woodcreek are going to be in with the top two or three teams in the league also. I know we’ll be ready for the first league game, because it’s against DO, but we better be ready for every single one. Seriously, we could go 0-5 in league. But a complete breakdown the SFL is not likely, not with Cooper calling the shots and a group of football players who have enjoyed plenty of success in the past. “Both the senior class and the junior class have won a lot of games at Granite Bay High School,” Cooper said. “But I’ve told our team that lots of good teams have lots of good players, especially in this league (SFL) and in our section. Our season will be determined by how much we improve each day and each week.”