Head Coach: Ryan Tracy
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Previous Experience: 13 Years
Record Last Year: 12-0, State Champion
State Titles: 1993, 2006, 2010, 2016, 2017
Cole Eiguren, QB/S, 12
Jonathon Fagen, LB/FB, 12
Noah Hattrup, CB/RB, 12
Brisyn Cutburth, OL/DL, 12
Isaac Gluch, WR/DB, 11
Josh Henggeler, WR/DB, 11
Tyler Teetzen, OL/DL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Jonathon Fagen, First Team All-State OL/LB
Cole Eiguren, Second Team All-State Punter
Noah Hattrup, Honorable Mention All-SRV RB
Brisyn Cutburth, Honorable Mention All-SRV DL
Isaac Gluch, Honorable Mention All-SRV DB
Key Players lost from last year:
Jordan Eggers, State Player of the Year
Ethan Villalobos, Leading tackler/All-State LB
Alex Osborn, First Team All-State OL/DL
Photo By: Steve Conner - #18 Cole Eiguren
Incoming impact players:
Zack Ziegler, RT, 11
Written By: Sven Alskog
As back-to-back state champions, the Fruitland Grizzlies have had a lot of things firing on all cylinders for them the last two years.
With a large amount of that core having graduated, the new challenge for the Grizzlies and sixth year head coach Ryan Tracy is to continue forward with the standard of excellence that has been set.
For a program that has made an appearance in the state title game eight out of the last nine years, it’s hard to think they will have too much of a drop-off.
Senior signal-caller Cole Eiguren returns to pilot the offensive attack for the Grizzlies. He’ll have an increased workload on his shoulders this season with the departure of State Player of the Year Jordan Eggers and a host of other running backs including Canaan Bourcy, Alex Becerril and Ethan Villalobos.
Making sure Eiguren has time to read the defense is one of the top priorities heading into the new year, with Fruitland looking to get the ball into the air a little more than in the past. With the loss of some staples of the offensive line, including the 285-pound Alex Osborn, that will be a major challenge.
“[The] offensive line has big shoes to fill,” added Tracy.
In total, the Grizzlies graduated four linemen over 225 pounds, leaving a large hole to fill for the newcomers.
At the end of the day, Fruitland will still have the strong run game foundation that has taken the program deep into November on an annual basis, but it just might also have a little bit more beyond that than the average fan is used to seeing out of the Grizzlies.
“We are going to be different than the last two years. We should be more balanced. Should be an exciting year,” said Tracy.
The loss of Villalobos, also the Grizzlies’ leading tackler a season ago, is perhaps the biggest loss to the defensive side of the ball.
The man in the middle does return however in Jonathon Fagen, which should help ensure that defense is a strength for Fruitland. Fagen made 94 tackles and forced six turnovers during the 2017 season.
Not many teams can rebound from graduating four First Team All-State selections on one side of the ball, but if anybody can do it it’s the Grizzlies.
Tracy says the secondary is an area he hopes to see improved, and that the linebacker unit should be the strength of the defense.
Some players to watch on each side of the ball include Joe Henggeler at wide receiver, Zack Ziegler at right tackle and Noah Hattrup at running back and corner.
This may be one of the more competitive fields in recent memory in the Snake River Valley Conference, with Homedale bringing back a strong contingent of talent and new Weiser coach Tom Harrison inheriting the dynamic Braden Bumgarner in the backfield.
Fruitland gets a gauntlet of a schedule underway on August 24 hosting South Fremont, with other non-conference games slated against Gooding, Middleton and Declo, each of which advanced to at least the semifinals for their classification a year ago.