Fruita’s Grasso showing he can be a feature back

Vince Grasso is proving you don’t have to be a big running back to have success. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Fruita Monument junior has rushed for 490 yards in four games as the Wildcats’ feature back.



QUICKREAD

CENTRAL vs. FRUITA MONUMENT

Friday, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium

RADIO: 95.1-FM (KKNN), 1340-AM (KTMM)

RECORDS: Central 1-3 (0-0 SWC); Fruita 1-3 (0-0 SWC).

LAST WEEK: Central defeated Hinkley 48-23; Fruita lost to Regis, 41-7.

GAME NOTES: This is Fruita Monument’s first game against a team not ranked in the top 10 in its respective classification this season. In Fruita’s three losses, it has seven turnovers. In its win, it has zero. ... Central is coming off its first victory of the season in its homecoming game. Chance Sidebottom rushed for 100 yards in that game. ... “(The Warriors) always play us tough,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “They understand the rivalry and will be up for it. They have good kids on both sides of the ball. They have confidence coming in to the game.” ... “When we hook up it usually is a good in-town rivalry,” Mulvey said. “We’re fighting to get in playoffs. Right now, we’re both out looking in. We’ve got to work hard and make own breaks.” ... Fruita rallied to defeat Central 19-14 last season with a late touchdown.

Moffat County vs. No. 2 Palisade

Saturday, noon, Palisade High School

RADIO: none

RECORDS: Moffat County 1-3 (1-0 WSC); Palisade 4-0 (1-0 WSC).

LAST WEEK: Moffat County defeated Delta 22-13; Palisade defeated Glenwood Springs 31-21.

GAME NOTES: For the third consecutive year, Palisade is hosting its homecoming game at its school. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on as seating will be limited. Admission prices remain the same, $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. ... Palisade quarterback Luke McLean sustained a hand injury last week, but is expected to play this week. ... Moffat County’s first three opponents are currently ranked in their respective classifications. Michael Samuelson leads Moffat County, rushing for more than 100 yards in the past three games and scoring at least one touchdown in all three. ... Palisade defeated Moffat County 36-6 last year.

Fountain-Ft. Carson vs. No. 1 Grand Junction

Saturday, 6 p.m., Stocker Stadium

RADIO: 1340-AM (KTMM)

RECORDS: Fountain 3-1; Grand Junction 4-0.

LAST WEEK: Fountain lost to Pine Creek 14-6; Grand Junction defeated Westminster 50-14.

GAME NOTES: Grand Junction proved it can pass the ball when forced to last week in its victory over Westminster. “We responded well,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “We know we’re going to be tested, so we have to be able to rely on the pass come playoff time.” ... The Tigers’ offense will likely face a tougher test this weekend against Fountain-Fort Carson. The Trojans are limiting opponents to 9.5 points per game. The two touchdowns they gave up in the loss to Pine Creek came on special teams. They are led by Division I linebacker prospect Kevin Davis (6-3, 220). ... “This is definitely going to be the toughest defense we face. We know we’re going to have our work cut out for us.” ... Running back Trae Bankston has rushed for an average of 112 yards per game and seven touchdowns. ... Grand Junction’s 21-20 victory over the Trojans last season was a key turning point for the program, Owens said.

Games to Watch

Ponderosa (2-2) at No. 6 Montrose (4-0), 7 p.m., Friday: The Indians had to rally to win on the road last week and face another Class 4A team a week after they dropped out of the top 10.

Cedaredge (2-2) at Olathe (2-2), 7 p.m., Friday: A turnover-plagued Pirates team faces a much improved Bruins team in an early conference game that could have big playoff implications.

Gunnison (3-1) at Coal Ridge (1-3), 7 p.m., Friday: Five Titans players and coach Scott Parker return after being suspended, looking to end a three-game losing streak.



Big things can come in small packages.

The Fruita Monument High School football team has one in 5-foot-7, 165-pound running back Vince Grasso.

The junior has provided a spark for the Wildcats’ offense this season.

“He runs hard and his vision is getting better,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “He is a quick, strong kid. The more time he gets on the field, he breaks more tackles. He keeps getting better.”

Grasso has rushed for 490 yards in four games, including a season-high 187 in the Wildcats’ victory over Glenwood Springs.

He began his sophomore year as a wide receiver in the new spread offense under coach Shawn Marsh.

“Last year, it was a lot about learning the offense,” Grasso said. “There was a lot of competition at running back.”

He had to prove he can handle the workload and beating of a running back last season when he weighed 145 pounds. By the third week, Grasso started getting some carries.

That fueled his hunger to prove he could do the job. Grasso has added 15 to 20 pounds of muscle to his frame since last season.

“This year, I feel like I have something to prove,” Grasso said. “You always get some people talking crap on the field.

“I don’t think much about it during the game. I focus in on playing and what’s going on.”

Fruita quarterback Zach Thorpe has seen Grasso put in the offseason work and was confident he could handle being the workhorse running back.

“Vince is a tough kid,” Thorpe said. “He runs a lot stronger and harder than last year. He’s hard to see, especially behind our line, but when he gets going, he’s a good load to take down.”

Now, he is the featured back.

“His reads are a lot more natural,” Mulvey said. “He does the right things. He gives us an opportunity to be competitive.

“The running game is crucial all the time. We want to run the ball and be a physical team.”

Grasso and the running game could play a large role for the Wildcats (1-3), who are looking to make a run into the playoffs.

Fruita, though, needs to start winning some games now, beginning its homecoming game at 7 p.m. Friday night against rival Central at Stocker Stadium.

“Homecoming game, it’s a huge game,” Grasso said. “We need to put wins together. We look to keep getting better. Playing a conference game, there is an added level of intensity.”

“It’s an important game for us, especially to bounce back from a loss to Regis,” Thorpe said. “We have to look at it as another game and not put any more hype on it than it needs.”


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