Malashevich does it all for Spring Valley
SPRING VALLEY — Finding Graeson Malashevich in Spring Valley’s offensive alignment can be just about as difficult as stopping him from doing damage.
The versatile senior pulled off a rare trifecta in the Timberwolves’ 36-0 Class AAA quarterfinal win against visiting Huntington High on Friday night — catching two touchdown passes, running for a score and also throwing a TD pass.
Malashevich regularly lines up as a wideout or wingback for the Wolves, but sometimes — like on Friday — he will take snaps as a quarterback out of the Wildcat formation or even takes snaps from under center and either run the ball or hand off.
“I think I’m a versatile player,″ Malashevich said. “It allows us to get in different packages up front because we’ve got players who can do a lot of things.″
On Friday, he scored his team’s first three touchdowns, which gave the Wolves a 21-0 halftime lead and they cruised home, earning a spot in the playoff semifinals for a third straight season.
He caught seven passes from Will Adkins for 184 yards, including scoring tosses of 16 and 20 yards and ran 4 yards for a TD out of the Wildcat, which resembles a single wing with direct snaps to the quarterback or running back.
When the Timberwolves pounded the ball down to the Huntington 1 in the third quarter, he took a Wildcat snap and pulled off a Tim Tebowlike jump pass over the line of scrimmage to Tyrus Baumgardner for another touchdown.
“I’ve said it before, but he’s the most valuable player I think in the state as far as his team,″ said Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess. “Tonight he caught some touchdowns and ran a touchdown and threw a touchdown. He’s all over the place on defense, too.
“You talk about all-around players in the state, and there’s not very many up there with him. I think if I put him at guard, he would fight and scrap. I don’t know if he could block guys, but he would die trying.″
Sometimes, just the threat of having Malashevich back there fielding punts and kickoffs (yes, he does that, too) can have an effect on opponents. Huntington High’s first punt Friday shanked out of bounds after just 22 yards in an effort to keep it away from Malashevich, giving Spring Valley excellent field position.
“They do a nice job of getting in all kinds of sets,″ said Highlanders coach Billy Seals, “and moving him around. You’ve got to account for
him at all times. He’s a really good football player and that’s a good football team. It’s the best team Brad’s had.″
Malashevich will likely get some support for the Kennedy Award as the top player in West Virginia simply because of his donations all over the field and the stat sheet.
For the season, he’s caught 30 passes for 823 yards and 13 touchdowns – more than 27 yards per catch. He’s also run 90 times for 793 yards and 10 scores. Add in 551 yards on 24 kickoff or punt returns and two more TDs. In passing, he’s 4 of 6 for 80 yards and three TDs.
Malashevich has tallied 27 overall touchdowns, including two on defense, where he lines up in the secondary. He also has four interceptions and came into Friday’s game with 37 tackles, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Learning all his assignments has to be a chore, but Malashevich seems to be able to handle the load with ease.
“We practice a lot,″ he said, “and it gets beat into my brain all week. When we come out every week, it’s who’s most prepared who wins, and I pride myself on preparation. That’s how I’m able to do that.
“We can spread you out and try to run it on you, and we can also pass the ball. You saw Will Adkins throwing the ball tonight. And it seems like someone steps up new every night.″