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Grizzlies get physical with Woodcreek

Granite Bay claims share of SFL title
By: Kurt Johnson, Press-Tribune sports editor
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After yielding the game’s first touchdown with minutes left in the opening quarter, the Granite Bay High School football team rolled off 34 unanswered points in a 34-7 win over Woodcreek on Friday night. The Grizzlies’ physical play wore down Woodcreek as the game progressed, leaving the Timberwolves bruised in the final Woodcreek home game of the season. “I was just saying that we were the healthiest team around and tonight we were hit with a whole rash of injuries,” Woodcreek coach John Hildebrand said. The game was played even back and forth in the opening stanza as the squads traded punts on their opening possessions before Woodcreek used the big play to gain the first advantage. After a Teddy Bryant punt rolled dead at the Timberwolves’ three-yard line, running back James Nunley did the heavy lifting in taking Woodcreek from the shadow of its own goal post to pay dirt at the other end of the field. Two runs by Nunley and a 16-yard completion from Tommy Murphy to Nunley moved Woodcreek out near midfield and then the junior running back broke off a 47-yard scoring run for the first points of the night. The Grizzlies answered with a 10-play 70-yard scoring march, with fullback Clark Partridge bursting in from one yard out to level the contest. The big play on the drive came two plays earlier with Partridge on the receiving end of a Bryant screen that went for 28 yards on the final play of the opening period. Woodcreek’s subsequent possession lasted just five plays, with the last play taking a huge toll on the Timberwolves. Nunley, who had rushed for 87 yards on his first nine carries, took a shot to the head and his night was over with a mild concussion. After the injury, Woodcreek’s final two possessions before intermission were three and out, while Granite Bay scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Bryant to Ian Rhodes toss of 29 yards at the end of an 11-play, 83-yard scoring march. The Timberwolves came out with an aggressive mindset after the break, with Austin Tafoya recovering an onside kick to open the third quarter, but Woodcreek was forced to give it back to Granite Bay on downs at the 41-yard line. Justin Sutter scored from 13 yards out to cap off that possession and increase the advantage to two touchdowns. A one-minute swing at the beginning of the final period put a capper on the night. The Grizzlies scored on a six-yard Brad Crisanty scamper with 11:07 remaining and after the extra-point was blocked, a Granite Bay pooch kick went uncovered until Ryan Bertrand fell on it to give the ball back to the Grizzlies at the Woodcreek 32. It took just three plays to cash it in from there as Sutter raced 25 yards to the end zone to provide the final 34-7 margin. “We threw it well tonight,” Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper said. “And we also ran it well between the tackles. Woodcreek does some things very well, and this was about building momentum for us.” The win, combined with Roseville’s loss at Rocklin, gives Granite Bay (4-1 in the SFL, 9-1 overall) a share of the Sierra Foothill League championship. The Grizzlies enter the playoffs as the second seed from the SFL, which means a trip to 10-0 Metro champion Grant next Friday night to open the postseason. “We will have to play real well just to have a chance next week,” Cooper said. Woodcreek (3-2, 5-5) enters the playoffs as the No. 3 team from the SFL and will visit the champions of the Sierra Valley Conference on Friday night. Barring an unforeseen Vista del Lago upset of Christian Brothers on Saturday, that opponent appears to be Oak Ridge (5-5). “We are fired up to get to the playoffs,” Hildebrand said. “We are not happy just to be there. We want to win.”