After rewriting record book in 2013, Swan Valley's Grace is back for more in 2014Football  |
SAGINAW – After rushing for over 2,000 yards in the past two seasons, including a state record 2,962 yards on the ground last season, it’s hard to imagine that there’s a possibility to improve on numbers like that.
But for Saginaw Swan Valley running back Alex Grace, who is already committed to Western Michigan, there’s definitely a strong possibility the senior could be even better this fall.
Swan Valley head coach Ken Bourbina said that part of what makes Grace the standout player that he is has to do with how hard he works to get better and he as well as the rest of the Swan Valley team are excited to see just how much better their star running back has gotten as he enters his senior season.
“He’s got a great work eithic,” he said. “He’s just constantly trying to improve his game each year, year in and year out and we’re just anxious to see just how much better he is this year than he was last year.”
After a breakout sophomore campaign where Grace rushed for over 2,100 yards and 27 touchdowns, it may have seemed unlikely that the standout running back would be able to improve upon impressive numbers like those.
However last season, he did just that, not only rushing for nearly 3,000 yards, but finding the end zone 36 times for the Vikings.
Grace credits plenty of his success and to have the opportunity to play for Western Michigan to his work ethic.
“I work hard and I know that you have to work hard if you want to play college football,” he said. “I get that from my parents, they tell me that you have to work hard to get what you want and that’s just the kind of mentality that I use.”
Bourbina noted that while opposing teams all know what his running back brings on the field from a talent standpoint, those teams don’t have the chance to see just how hard Grace really works on a day-in, day-out basis.
“We get to see how hard he works, where other teams may not get to see that,” he said. “In the games, people know how good he is and for us, we get to see him on a daily basis and that’s probably the big difference.”
While just any team in the state is well aware of how good Grace is running the ball, he thinks that one of the parts of his game that can go overlooked at times is his receiving skills, which can sometimes be hidden in the run-heavy Swan Valley offense.
“It’s probably my receiving,” he said. “We don’t throw the ball very much and I don’t want to brag or anything, but I can catch the ball pretty well and I can run pretty good routes, we just don’t throw the ball very often.”
After compiling a 10-3 record two years ago, followed by an 11-1 mark last season, Swan Valley has been one of the state’s best teams in Division 4, but this season the Vikings are looking for more.
Grace said that the ultimate goal for he and his teammates is to reach the state finals this fall, but they won’t look too far ahead and are still focused on taking the season one game at a time to first make the playoffs and then hopefully make a deep run in the postseason.
“We want to make it to the state finals, but we have to take it one game at a time,” he said.
“That’s one of our goals, you can’t overlook it, you have to make it to the playoffs first.”