BY CORY WOODROOF|PHOTO BY ANDY COLLIGNON
As the rain streamed down on Brentwood’s jubilant fans after their young, hungry Bruins edged out a tough Franklin Rebels outfit, it began to wash away the fears that this year’s Brentwood team would be too young to compete.
After all, the team returns only one top-15 tackler from 2017; a defense, mind you, that kept the Rebels’ senior offense from ever cashing in on a long drive. The only points Franklin was able to get up on the scoreboard came from errors on offense and special teams. Sure, the defense could’ve held, but from such a young offense, you can only expect so much.
Perhaps that’ll be the story for Brentwood football this season. You get more than you expected, but you can, truly, only expect so much.
Friday’s win showed the Bruins hoisting an exciting pass rush, which looks to be led by Tank Starr, Mark Morales and Stone Roston. The defensive backfield feels poised for a pick from Davis Witt at any second, too. For a unit with such youth, they surpassed expectations against Josh Nichols, Chancellor Bright and Matt Gaca, a trio that would make anyone in the county nervous to scheme for. It’s early, but whatever coach Ron Crawford and his staff have been doing this offseason, it’s beginning to show the dividends.
On offense, of course you look for Cade Granzow. The sophomore led the charge for the Bruins against Franklin after senior Dylan Stevens got the first few snaps and willed the win through a couple of rough picks. He’s got the arm and legs to excite any offensive coordinator and put any opposing linebackers in a tizzy. The errant throws will work out of his system as he gathers more poise for the position. The question is, will that be this year, or when he’s a junior, firmly entrenched in the gig?
He’s got plenty of help; junior wideout Chayce Bishop will play college ball somewhere once his Bruins career is done, as will wideout Walker Merrill. Avery Williams could bolster his stock early (he had a nice long haul in the jamboree), and Carter McKechnie already is thriving in his switch to more receiving. Between those four, the young gunslinger Granzow has his options cut out for him. Don’t forget about running back and goal-line maven Jordan Nicholas, who had two red zone touchdowns against the Rebels. He’ll be important to pace the offense and not put too much on Granzow to boot.
So, obviously, this team is young, but they’re also quite promising. To gut a win out like that right when the elements kick in speaks volumes to how Crawford and staff have gotten these guys ready.
With a early leg up in the district, they, right now, might be locked in with comeback kids Ravenwood for a run at the district title. Ravenwood’s been here before, but so has Brentwood. So, even in what seemed to be a year of transition for the latter, it looks right now to be the usual suspects for the fall race.
Centennial and Independence won’t be down long after losses; nor will Franklin. The Rebels showcased plenty of prowess on the road, and Nichols has the “it” factor to win the close ballgame. A bounce or two different, and we might be telling a far-different story and looking at another district leader.
Friday’s Cane Ridge matchup will tell a lot about where Brentwood’s youth movement is headed. If they pull it off against the team that eliminated them last November and got second in the region, the rest of the district need to be put on notice. If Granzow and the young defense struggles against their opponent, a perennial contender for state, perhaps it’ll be time to give this Bruins outfit some time to grow into the future.
The team’s Sept. 14 game at Ravenwood could be the district game of the season. The Raptors roared back a 21-point comeback against Centennial last weekend, which could indicate they’ve got the goods once more.
Could the Brentwood youth movement be the story of WillCo fooball this season?
Adjust your expectations accordingly; just not yet.