Joe Davidson

High School football notes: Granite Bay Grizzlies see change of style under new coach

Published: Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013 - 6:42 am

At Granite Bay High School, the frenetic style of Ernie Cooper has been replaced by the calm, cool delivery of Skip Albano.

Cooper, The Bee's Coach of the Year after leading the Grizzlies to the CIF State Division I championship last season, resigned last month as the only head varsity football coach the school has had, saying he wanted to spend more time with family and avoid burning the "candle at both ends."

It was the most stunning offseason move, and how it all plays out is one of the primary story lines for the 2013 football season.

Albano, the interim coach, is a familiar face, in his fourth stint for the Grizzlies. He's leading summer workouts this week, with Cooper staying on as the team's strength and conditioning coach. Albano, 64, coached with Cooper in 2000-03, 2008 and 2011. He sprinkled in six seasons coaching in Europe, including the Thun Tigers of the Swiss American Football League last year.

So why is Albano back in Placer County? "My contract in Switzerland expired," Albano said. "No, really, it's good to be home. I'm very much looking forward to this."

While Cooper would bounce from one practice group to another, arms flailing and barking instructions, Albano's movements and words are few. He mostly studies the action, but he does have an audience when he speaks.

"There are definite changes," junior linebacker recruit Cameron Smith said. "We're glad we had a chance to hang out with coach the past week. He's a little more laid-back."

Added Smith with a laugh: "He won't freak out like Coop, but that's Coop."

Smith is one of a handful of standout returning starters for a program that has won 10 league and five Sac-Joaquin Section championships since 1999. Flyback Tony Ellison (1,185 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) and linebacker Dylan Keeney (30 tackles, two interceptions), both seniors, also are back.

"I think we can do anything with our new coach," Ellison said. "He wants to win. We feel like we can still do great things."

Granite Bay opens the season Sept. 6 at home against Folsom in a showdown of teams that finished No. 2 and 1, respectively, in The Bee's final rankings last season.

Honoring Akins – Inderkum will play its football season in honor of Dylan Akins, a June graduate who died Friday in a solo vehicle accident.

Akins, a standout lineman for the Tigers, will have his No. 75 retired, said coach Terry Stark, who added that Akins was "a great teammate, student and brother."

Akins lost control of his truck and overturned in a canal just outside Williams in the late-morning crash that is under investigation, according to the California Highway Patrol. About 250 students, teachers, coaches, family and friends attended a candlelight vigil Sunday.

Browning offer – Folsom junior quarterback Jake Browning was offered a scholarship by Boise State after attending the Broncos' camp. Browning, who led Folsom to a 14-1 season in 2012, was The Bee's Offensive Player of the Year. He also has an offer from Utah and growing interest from Washington, among others.

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