PAYETTE The Fruitland High football team has a way of making things look easy.
The Grizzlies needed just eight plays in the first quarter to score three touchdowns and were never threatened on their way to a 61-7 victory against Payette on Friday night at Killebrew Field.
Fruitland has outscored its first six opponents by a combined score of 275-73, and the Grizzlies are one of four unbeaten teams in the 3A classification along with Shelley, Teton and Gooding.
The kids tend to get lackadaisical, theyre humans. When theyre not challenged they tend to go through the motions, Fruitland coach Bruce Schlaich said. Weve done some things to try and progress and make us better each week and challenge them. Were hoping that pays off.
One of those challenges was a season-opening game at Middleton, last years 4A state runner-up. The Grizzlies took the test in stride, winning 30-15.
A few weeks later, Fruitland traveled to California for a high-profile game against Casa Roble.
The Grizzlies won that game 29-22, but lost Boise State commit Alec Dhaenens (ACL) and sophomore Kody Graves (broken leg).
Fruitland has pushed forward despite the setbacks, and remains in the hunt for a seventh consecutive appearance in the 3A state championship game.
We play for them. We want to do this for them, said senior running back Kris Olinger, who rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of action against Payette. We know theyd give anything to be out here, so we just want to do it for them. Thats what motivates us.
In seasons past, the Grizzlies have been known for a strong running game, but the 2012 squad has added a new dimension with a sharp passing game as well.
Senior quarterback Joe Martarano, who also has given a verbal commitment to Boise State, completed 6-of-11 passes for 173 yards and three TDs against Payette all in the first half. Martarano added a 10-yard rushing TD.
Teams are loading the box on us because they want to stop our running game and they want to stop Joe running the ball, Schlaich said. That just opens up the passing game because a lot of times they are in man coverage and they play the run so hard that guys are wide open.
That was certainly the case against the Pirates as Martarano completed TD passes of 33, 46 and 45 yards to wide-open junior receiver Hagen Graves.
But Schlaich and his players know the road to a third state championship in seven seasons isnt going to be a cakewalk.
We are going to have to get better each week, he said. We know whats on the other side of the state, and theyre not going to be 61 to nothing games. Theyre just not.