Chuck Landon: Malashevich has earned Kennedy Award
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
There’s one high school football player in the state of West Virginia, who is more valuable, more productive, more charismatic and more versatile than any other.
For those reasons and many, many more he deserves the Kennedy Award that is presented annually to the finest prep player in the state.
His name is Graeson Malashevich.
He is a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior at Spring Valley High School and is pound-for-pound the best in the Mountain State.
What position does he play?
As a wideout, Malashevich has 30 catches for 823 yards (27.4 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns.
As a running back, he has rushed for 793 yards and 10 TDs on 90 carries (8.8 yards per attempt).
As a quarterback, Malashevich is 4-for-6 for 80 yards and three touchdowns.
As a punt and kickoff returner, he has 24 returns for 551 yards and two TDs (23.0 yards per return).
Then, on defense Malashevich has four interceptions, 37 tackles, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two more touchdowns.
But mere numbers don’t do him justice.
Not even this one.
On 150 touches offensively and on kick returns, Malashevich has 2,247 yards which means he gains 14.98 yards every single time he touches the ball.
So, just how good is Graeson Malashevich?
Let’s ask his dad, Billy, because he is where this all started.
“Being able to play at Marshall,” said the former Thundering Herd place-kicker who made 29 of 40 field goal attempts in 1997-98-99, “and being with Chad Pennington and Randy Moss and all the other great players we had.
“We had a lot of NFL players. It was really unbelievable for Marshall to have the talent that they had while I was there and being a part of it was awesome.
“I made lifelong friendships, like with Aaron Ferguson.
“My oldest son (Trey) was born while I was at Marshall. I had him out on the field some. So, football has been a part of their lives since they can remember. We’re definitely a football family.”
Especially since the elder Malashevich is a Spring Valley assistant, who coached first Trey and, now, Graeson.
That means he doesn’t always witness some of his younger son’s spectacular plays.
“I’ve got coaching responsibilities and I get focused on what I’m supposed to be doing to help our team win,” explained Malashevich. “A lot of times there are plays that he makes and I don’t even see them. I’m out there on the sidelines, but I’m looking at something else.
“Whether it’s what our coverage is supposed to be and if we’re in it. ... and, then, all of a sudden I hear the crowd go crazy and I look up and he’s running down the field.”
So, how often does his multi-talented son do something that surprises dad?
“Just about every game,” said Malashevish with a chuckle.
“He’s been around football so long, he’s got a really good football mind. That really helps him out there. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s pretty athletic and he pretty much knows what is going on all the time.
“He’s a really smart football player. He knows the game.
“He has what I call ‘special intelligence.’ He has the ability to process information very quickly at a high level.”
Graeson Malashevich is a special athlete from a special family.
He definately deserves the Kennedy Award.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.