The High Country Grizzlies were all set to play football this season, but there was a speed bump on which league it would be in. After the Arena Indoor Football League folded last July, the Grizzlies switched to become one of the founding franchises of the National Arena League, which kicks off lafter this month.
The Grizzlies then set on two things: building a roster and building a presence in the community. The latter came with a great opportunity as they sponsored a local NASCAR driver, then signed their first six players, including Stephen Panasuk, who last played for the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League, and has seen playing time in three other indoor leagues before coming to High Country.
High Country proceeded to fill out their roster primarily with local high school, collegiate, and indoor talent, then finalized plans for their first training camp, set to begin on Feb. 28. While building a team that would take the field, the players themselves actually helped to lay down the playing surface at their home in the Holmes Center in Boone, NC.
When the season kicks off on March 18, home fans won’t have to wait long to get their first taste of their team, as after they travel to Albany, GA to face the Georgia Firebirds, they get their next three games at home before their first bye week in Week 5. Another trip south to face the Columbus Lions, then their second bye week before finishing their schedule three of their last six games at home.
The Grizzlies are already making an impact thanks to offering early ticket sales, and building an experienced team to contend with the likes of the Jacksonville Sharks will quickly not only provide indicators to show how 2017 will pan out, but how football will be in High Country going forward.