Photo By Richard Friess - #22 Cruz Taylor
Written by Dylan Carder, Sports Director KIFI/KIDK
The Skyline Grizzlies aren't that far removed from back-to-back state championships. Their bid for a third in a row in 2018 fell short in the second round of the 4A state playoffs with a 35-21 loss to Bishop Kelly. The Grizzlies are ready to see how far they can go in 2019.
Head coach Scott Berger will have a new quarterback leading his offense this season. Moving on is Easton Taylor, but taking over the role is senior Cruz Taylor. He was First Team All-Conference as a running back last season. Berger describes Taylor as a “Dynamic QB who can make big plays all over the field.”
The offensive philosophy for the Grizzlies will be to spread the ball around to their skill players. Senior RB Luke Ruiz will be the main threat out of the backfield alongside Taylor. The top targets for Taylor in the passing game will be junior receivers Connor Maloney and Eli Ames. Maloney was First Team All-Conference last season as a sophomore.
Senior Austen Seward is back to be the key cog in the offensive line. Berger pointed him out as one of the players he feels is ready to step up and be an impact player this season. Asher Radford is also back to be an important contributor to the offensive line. They will look to open up lanes and allow time for the Grizzlies to use their explosiveness with the ball.
On defense, the strength will be the secondary. Berger says the unit will called upon to lead the way early on by stopping both the run and the pass. Juniors Christean Thomas and Adrian Alvarez are the notable returners that will lead that group.
Berger likes the potential of his front seven. Junior Brixton Gilbert will be back to anchor the defensive line. He is another player that Berger believes is ready to take his game to the next level. Defensively, the Grizzlies will emphasize their speed and quickness.
Skyline has some nice all around depth that should benefit them throughout the season, but it will be their returning play makers that will determine how 2019 goes for the Grizzlies. Berger believes that a number of his good athletes in the program will benefit from a year of maturity.
The schedule will be favorable for Skyline. Their only conference game played somewhere other than Ravsten Stadium will be a trip to Shelley. The Grizzlies will have the benefit of facing the other league contenders on their home field.
The High Country Conference is a good league that has a handful of good teams that will be fighting for a spot in the 4A state playoffs. The Grizzlies will be right in that mix. How quickly some of their young players step and contribute will be a factor in their success.