, Calif. – Six weeks ago, the Granite Bay (Calif.)
High School football team sat at a cross roads.
Stung and steaming from a four-point loss to rival Del Oro in a Sierra Foothill League tilt, the Grizzlies collectively concluded that they would either buckle from the experience or surge.
Six weeks of good living included six victories and a 4-0 romp through the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, highlighted by upsets of the two seeds. On Saturday, Granite Bay beat defending champion Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.)
30-24 at Sacramento State, ignoring the blustering conditions and any notion that it would struggle against the speed and fury of a team top-ranked by The Sacramento Bee all season.
The Grizzlies were more than up for the task, thanks to a poised and confident group that came in inspired and confident after downing top-seeded Lincoln of Stockton 28-21 in a semifinal. In downing Pleasant Grove, ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps entering the season, Granite Bay brought to a screeching halt any bowl-game argument for Division I out of this section.
Though Grizzlies coach Ernie Cooper said he'd love a bowl invite and insists his club "can hang with anyone."
He's right. Granite Bay has been a power for years, losing only this season to Vacaville and Del Oro. Still, the Grizzlies understand that with two losses they are a serious long shot for a bowl given the strength of the Bay Area teams, particularly De La Salle of Concord and Bellarmine of San Jose. De La Salle is unbeaten in California this season and Bellarmine has only an overtime loss to the Spartans.
Three-year starting quarterback Brendan Keeney
of Granite Bay passed for 136 yards and had touchdown strikes of 15 and 12 yards to tight end Spencer Briare
. Arik Bird
rushed for 166 yards on 27 carries and had second half scoring runs of 6 and 38 yards, and he salted the Eagles of Elk Grove away with two first-down runs to drive toward the goal line. Granite Bay took a knee to end it.
The other key leader for Granite Bay this season has been 6-foot-5, 340-pound lineman Gavin Andrews
, an Oregon State commit. He regularly locked up against national recruit lineman Arik Armstead
, who was slowed by a season-long rotator cuff strain. Still, no one disputes that the stronger team won here.
Pleasant Grove rushed for 157 yards, just 34 on 10 carries by 1,700-yard rusher Mark Jenkins.Cody Demps
tossed a 67-yard touchdown to his brother Wyatt
and also rushed for a 45-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-3 play early in the fourth to tie it at 24-24.Joe Davidson has covered preps for The Bee since 1988. Reach him at email@example.com