Galena Grizzlies Season Preview
The high school football season begins in two weeks, with that being said we are previewing over twenty teams from our local area. Today's team: Galena.
2022 record: 6-5 overall, 3-3 league
Head coach: Aaron Cook, fifth season at Galena (9-24 overall, 5-14 league in four seasons at Galena)
Overview: When I think of the success stories of last season my mind immediately goes to Galena and Coach Aaron Cook. Heading into last season's opener the Grizzlies hadn't won a game in 1,043 days. That is mind-blowing to think about, but I'll say this, I gained a ton of respect for Coach Cook and the program he was building when I spent a little time around the program early in the season. I was happy to see them breakthrough last year.
That was then and this is now, and man what a difference a year makes... as Coach Cook stated in our conversation "a year ago we were just looking to win a game and make a run for the playoffs." Mission accomplished Grizzlies, mission accomplished. The good news is this year's squad has new goals (namely achieving a first round bye in the playoffs), and with the creation of the 5A, Division-III they are set up pretty nicely to maybe make a run at something Galena has never accomplished on the gridiron in the school's 31-year history - win a state championship.
The strength of Galena's team this season will be the amount of impact returners that they have. The Grizzlies return eight offensive starters from last season to go along with nine returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. With some changes afoot on both sides of the ball, it is extremely important that the Grizzlies "Stay healthy, because we don't have a ton of depth right now. We have good, not great numbers but we must stay together." as Cook stated in our conversation.
Galena will continue to operate out of multiple "Spread" looks offensively hoping to achieve a "Go-Go" offense in the process. The goal is "[to get] the ball in space and let our athletes do some damage in the open field," Cook said. Defensively the Grizzlies are moving from a 3-4 base defense to a 3-3-5 stack, as former Defensive Coordinator and Long-time area coach Tony Amantia decided to step away from coaching so he could watch his son play.
I like quantifiable(s) to measure success and progress, consider this... in 2021 the Grizzlies only scored nine touchdowns in nine games. Last season they scored 32 in 11 games, just under three per game on average increasing their points scored by over two hundred percent. My question is this... can they continue to improve upon that number this season?!?
The Tone Setters:
OL/DL Tyler Miller, Senior: Miller has the potential to be the next Harvey Dahl/Austin Corbett from Northern Nevada. Already a three-star recruit, Miller could gain some big time offers if he can get through the season healthy and dominant like most of us believe he can be. He is a mountain of a man, that is currently reporting around fifteen offers from Division-I schools (including Nevada, San Diego State, and Norfolk State among others). He is expected to graduate early so that he can be ready to enroll and go through spring practices wherever he decides to go following this season. He has accumulated 36 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles as a menace on the defensive line. I'm excited to see him this season. Coach Cook stated that "Tyler has that 'It' factor you look for in Division-I players, he's also a great leader who is patient with the younger kids and volunteers a ton."
TE/DL Peter Anderson, Senior: Anderson is a block-first team guy that has a huge frame, checking in at 6-foot-4. Offensively he has corralled 25 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown for the Grizzlies. In limited action defensively he has 16 tackles in two seasons for the Grizz.
RB/LB JoJo Czyz, Senior: Like I said last year Czyz is an animal at linebacker constantly running sideline-to-sideline in pursuit of the opposing team's top playmakers. Czyz prefers defense as evidence of his 183 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions through two years on Varsity, but he can get it done with the ball in his hands. In only 145 offensive touches he has racked up 711 yards of total offense to go along with four touchdowns. Due to his athleticism, he is a threat to score anytime the ball is in his hands. Coach Cook said "Czyz is the rock of our group - he wants to go, always looking to get faster and be more productive."
DE Maclain McBride, Senior: Coach Cook was quick to point out that McBride has gotten a lot better in his technique since he started working with former Nevada FB Legend Mike Edwards and his 'Big Man Basics' group that teaches lineman proper footwork and hand placement as well as creating and maintaining leverage at the point of attack. McBride has 69 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 10 sacks to his credit headed into his Senior year. He's a potential "Diamond in the rough."
Can I get a Quarterback? An ode to the '25s on Galena's roster...
WR Ben Imse, Junior: A threat to take the top off opposing defenses, he may have his best season in store. Last year Imse accounted for 433 receiving yards on 35 receptions to go along with five house calls. Now with Kermode potentially at QB for the Grizz this season they could be going deep beyond the second and third levels. Coach Cook said "he's a great kid, with great hands who is very committed." He could see some time at OLB as well this season.
ATH Colson Kermode, Junior: I have Kermode listed as an Athlete right now because it seems like he can do anything you ask him to on the football field. In two seasons on Varsity, he has 81 passing yards to go along with a TD. He also has 356 rushing yards and 11 TDs while also racking up 43 receiving yards, like I said he's an athlete. Nevada HC Ken Wilson has already offered him a scholarship and he could play defense at the next level because as Cook states "he is a safety that seeks contact, and with a good season, he could blow up offers wise." He's a potential Player of The Year candidate in Northern Nevada.
LB Matthew Ritenhouse, Junior: Not the biggest guy on the field, but definitely one of the most ferocious - Ritenhouse "gets in space, fly's around and is committed." He can make a game changing play at a moment's notice and has the stats to prove it - last season he recorded 46 tackles, 5 TFLs, three sacks, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. No matter how you slice it, this kid is a gamer and seems to only be getting better.
DB Erick Rodriguez, Junior: Another playmaker in Galena's back half of their defense, Rodriguez isn't the biggest either, but man does he play with a grittiness to his game. Versatile enough to work man-to-man or in zone he recorded 45 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season. Coach Cook said "He is a shutdown corner who puts in the extra time. He has that 'dog' mentality and works his tail off." Seems like he's poised for a breakout season.
Aug. 18 vs. Spring Creek
Aug. 25 at Yuba City (Calif.)
Sep. 1 vs. Churchill County (Fallon, Nev.)
Sep. 8 at Bishop Manogue
Sep. 15 vs. Damonte Ranch
Sep. 22 vs. Douglas
Sep. 29 at North Valleys
Oct. 6 vs. Carson
Oct. 13 at Hug
Oct. 20 at Wooster
J. Ray Dockter has been covering high school sports since 2022. If you have a story worth telling let him know via Twitter @J_RayDoc.