Jason Bruce is the Palisade football team's version of "Where's Waldo," except Bruce prefers maroon and white, plus he is pretty easy to locate.

No. 21 for the Bulldogs is the latest in a long line of do-it-all running backs with versatility to make an impact in all three phases of the game.

Bruce is quick, fast, savvy and always enthusiastic when he's on the field.

Routinely in the middle of every big-play celebration for the Bulldogs, Bruce is packed with energy and loves being on the field helping the team, doing whatever needs to be done.

"It's fun to be on the field, I love it," he said with a smile.

In a recent game, like most games, Bruce was on the field a lot. He took a pitch sweep on the first play of the game and zoomed down the sideline for 68 yards. Later he broke up a pass from his defensive back position on a fake punt. Then he made a nifty catch inside the 10 to set up another Bulldog TD.

If the Bulldogs ever get stopped on offense, Bruce is the punter.

Earlier this year, when Palisade needed a kicker to fill in for a game, Bruce was more than happy to showcase his kicking talents.

For many high school teams, extra points can be an inconsistent adventure, even for the regular kicker.

But for Bruce, it was no problem.

In the 49-20 win over Steamboat Springs, Palisade scored seven touchdowns and seven times Bruce popped a perfect extra point through the uprights.

Bruce offers a laugh concerning his place-kicking ability.

"It was fun but I'll leave it to (Ben Sargent), he's better," Bruce said.

It should also be mentioned that Bruce is 2 for 2 passing the football this year for 63 yards and a TD. He's also the team's main kickoff and punt returner.

With eight TDs on the year, he has six rushing, one receiving and one on a 91-yard kickoff return.

With Bruce being such a huge part of the Bulldogs' team this year, it's a bit of a contrast from his junior year.

Coach Joe Ramunno said Bruce made an impact on last year's team that reached the 3A state semifinals, but he was still waiting his turn for a leading role.

"He played a lot of football last year, on offense and defense, but we had (Austin) Bernal and Terrance (Williams), so they were getting the ball," Ramunno said. "Jason was kind of in the background, so he didn't have the yardage last year, but I knew it was coming for him.

"This year, he is instrumental in everything we want to do."

In the flexbone offense for the Bulldogs, Bruce doesn't get the ball a lot but averages more than 8 yards a carry every time he does. He had 665 yards rushing on the regular season and finished with 1,282 all-purpose yards.

What Bruce does nearly every offensive play when he doesn't have the ball, is what is expected of every running back — he blocks.

"Around here, we've always had the philosophy of if you don't block, you aren't getting the ball, so that's where it starts," Ramunno said. "You have to be an unselfish guy who's a team player, and Jason is a team player.

"They have to give up a lot because in our system, you're not going to be the feature guy all the time."

Bruce watched Bernal as the guy last year and he knows there have been a number of others before him.

"I try to do the type of things they did," Bruce said. "I love that role, to do as many things as possible, just to be on the field as much as possible during the game."

Whoever is in that running back position, Ramunno counts on them to be that tough, versatile, team player.

"Jason means so much and the good thing about Jason is he's a team guy. He can do everything, he's a great competitor, he fits the mold, he's a Bulldog," Ramunno said with a grin.

After giving it some thought, Bruce can't even pick his favorite part of being on the field.

"I don't really have a favorite, just the brotherhood we have, it makes it all worth it," he said. "Just being on the field as much as much as you can, while you can, that's what I love."

On Saturday, Bruce and the Bulldogs will be back on the field looking to move on in the playoffs.

If it works out like they hope and the flexbone offense is rolling, the only thing Bruce hopes to not do on Saturday is be in punt formation too much.

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