By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Hard work doesn’t bother Jason Grose. Most football players rest up after practice and hit the books. Grose cuts logs on his family-owned sawmill.
“I work on a sawmill, I have been working on a sawmill since I was 8,” Grose said. “It keeps me in shape, I am pulling cable up mountainsides getting logs. It is hard work, but it pays off, especially in football season.”
It has shown on the football field for Montcalm, where Grose plays running back, linebacker, special teams and anywhere else he might be needed.
“If it is out there, I am out there,” said Grose, with a smile.
He did it well last Friday night as Montcalm improved to 4-4 with a 44-8 rout of Tygarts Valley. The Generals, who will play just nine games this season, could finish with a 5-4 record and just their second winning record in school history with a win on Saturday against Hannan.
“It is at the top of my list and I am sure it is for everybody else walking out there too,” Grose said.
All Grose did against the Bulldogs was run for 244 yards and three touchdowns of 67, 40 and 66 yards, and also found time to add a two-point conversion run and recorded 11 tackles on defense.
“He had a good game on both sides of the ball and when we were talking about his stats, he was talking about the line and how they gave him some space and they opened up some holes for him,” Montcalm head coach Jimmy Redmond said. “He could have had more, but we play with sportsmanship...He just had a good game overall.”
That game earned Grose the Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week award, the first time a Montcalm player is believed to have earned those honors since Adam Havens won for the Generals when they had their best season at 8-2 in 2005.
“It was a good game, not only for me, but for everybody else, everybody played their part good,” Grose said. “They done some great blocking, they did better than they have done in the past, that is for sure.
“It feels good, everybody done real well, they done their job and we were able to make yards.”
And points. Grose scored three times in the opening half, all on long runs, led by the blocking of Charles Myers, Dakota Lanter, Hunter Rose, Dustin Williams, Dakota Conley, along with close friend Marcus Bailey.
“We are like brothers,” said Grose, of Bailey, who also had 72 yards on three receptions from Aaron Presley. “He is an awesome fullback and he gets me through the hole.”
It isn’t easy playing football at Montcalm, but Grose loves everything about the only sport he plays.
“It is an adrenaline rush as soon as you get out on the field,” he said.
One of the smaller football playing schools in West Virginia, the Generals have had little success, with just one winning record and no playoff appearances, and that run will continue this year despite the possibility of a 5-4 record.
“I was wishing we would have made (the playoffs), but bygones are bygones, you have to play for next week,” said Grose, whose Generals have won just 28 games since 2001.
Montcalm had a 10th game scheduled, but Ervinton closed its doors prior to this school year.
“It would have been something to make the playoffs. It is pretty good, but hopefully we can end 5-4,” Redmond said. “The theme this week is we are just trying to get better from week to week.
“We had a good game, but there is always room for improvement.”
It isn’t easy to play football at Montcalm, where the small numbers limit the Generals to what they can do on the field. Redmond replaced Justin Gilbert prior to last season and has clicked with this players.
“Me personally I respect Jimmy as a person,” Grose said. “He is not all about football, he is teaching us life lessons, he is just an all-around good guy.”
No one has enjoyed the success the Generals have had this season more than Redmond, who also coaches baseball at Montcalm.
“It’s good to see them taste that success,” Redmond said. “They are good boys, they talk team all the time. Somebody mentioned the other day, they hadn’t seen them play like a team like this in a while so that makes me feel good.”
Grose was part of a two-win team in each of the last two seasons, but the Generals continued to work, either in the weight room or in Crossfit training techniques taught by assistant coach Brian Krabbe.
“Nobody gave up, the seniors had to go, but everybody that stayed, they put 110 (percent) in,” Grose said. “It has been a lot of hard work, we have been working hard and training. We have been doing crossfit with Coach Krabbe and that has put us in top-notch shape so I believe we are in the best shape we have ever been in since the last time we got to 5-4.”
Tygarts Valley, like Montcalm, is a small school that struggles to field a competitive team. Grose can feel for the Bulldogs.
“It feels good for us, but I have also been where they have been and I don’t like it,” he said. “I know both sides of the story.”
Montcalm started this season with a 3-0 record, led by Grose, who had 1,600 yards rushing last year, and is approaching 1,200 with the final game on tap Saturday against Hannan.
“He is fairly strong, he works hard in the weight room and after he is done with practice, his family owns a saw mill so he is always working,” Redmond said. “Last week he blitzed pretty good and he was blitzing at the right time and the right spot.
“He is a middle linebacker and has good size and he has matured from his ninth grade year and he is becoming a pretty good football player.”
Grose, who started playing running back in eighth grade, enjoys his life in Montcalm, where football is important, even if the Generals don’t enjoy the success other area schools.
However, the Generals do have the second best record this season among the four Mercer County schools, trailing only Bluefield.
“I love Montcalm, I love everything about Montcalm, I wouldn’t want to go to a big school,” Grose said. “You get to know your players better, you don’t get to know just 11 of them. We know all our players, we can anticipate what they are going to do better in a game and you just make more and better friends.”
The future could be turning toward more success in Montcalm. The Little Generals program is now active and the local middle school has fielded a competitive team now for several years.
“We just want to keep getting better..,” said Redmond, who plans to revamp the schedule and add small Virginia schools Narrows and Auburn for next season. “We have some bigger kids coming up on the line and we just keep getting better so that is good.”
When Grose isn’t working, either on football or the sawmill, he is busy with academics, with history being his favorite subject. That’s a good thing, he’s helping create better history for football in Montcalm.
“It feels good,” said Grose, of earning top player honors for the week. “I am proud of my team more than I am me though because I couldn’t have done it without my team.
“I don’t think it is a players’ award, I think it is a team award of the week.”
Special honorable mention:
Tazewell: (27-26 win over Carroll County): Jacob McReynolds, 185 yards, 4 td rushing, 3 extra point kicks, scored all 27 points, 7 tackles, 1 punt-40 yards.
Bluefield (51-50 win over Oak Hill): D.J. Stewart, 8-147 yards, 2 td rush; Montel Leggett, 13-146 yards, 2 td rush; Justin Mariotti, 6 extra points, 19-yard game-winning field goal.
Giles (63-12 win over Floyd County): Ian Mann, 155 yards, 6 td rush; Brett Whitlow, 10-131 rush, Gavin Lee, 9-9 extra point kicks.
Graham (40-0 win over Bland County): Cody Hatfield, 2-74, 1 td rush.
Haysi (28-0 win over Hurley): Zach Owens, 13-22, 211 yards, 2 td pass, 1 td rush.
Honaker (20-7 win over John Battle): Cody Lester, 80 yards,1 td rush; Dakota Stevens, 2 fumble recoveries.
Hurley (28-0 loss at Haysi): Ethan Duty, 112 all-purpose yards.
Montcalm (44-8 win over Tygarts Valley): Aaron Presley, 90 yards, 1 td pass, 7-48 rush; Marcus Bailey, 3-72 catch.
Mount View (34-12 loss to Meadow Bridge: LaQuell Martin, 158 yards, 1 td rush.
Narrows (48-8 loss to Galax): Rodney Perdue, 101 yards pass.
Richlands (35-6 win over Abingdon): Colton Staten, 22-181 rush; Ben Brown, 90 yards, 1 td pass. Michael Horton, 2 td rush, played quarterback first time since Little League, interception return for td.
River View (28-14 loss to Nicholas County): Jordan Wilson, 15-105, 2 td rush; Austin Walker, 8-75 rush, 59 yards pass.