HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess is almost certain Graeson Malashevich is one of the better high school football players in all of West Virginia.
“If Graeson isn’t one of the best players in the state, I don’t know who is,” Dingess said. “That kid’s a ballplayer.”
The Timberwolves’ first six opponents this season likely have similar thoughts.
Malashevich, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior, is listed on the team’s roster as a running back and defensive back. While he’s stood out at both positions, Malashevich is much more than that.
He fills any role asked of him, and Dingess and his staff rely heavily on the shifty veteran to fill a variety of them.
Already this season, Malashevich has games with one rushing and one receiving touchdown, 103 rushing yards and a passing touchdown, four receiving touchdowns with 178 receiving yards and 128 rushing yards with a pair of scores on the ground.
“I pride myself on being a versatile player and I try to make plays for my team when they call my number,” Malashevich said.
In the Timberwolves’ 62-21 win over George Washington in week 5, Malashevich had four catches for 178 yards and scored on each reception. The following week was the showdown against Capital, and after the Timberwolves (6-0) struggled somewhat offensively in the first half, Malashevich took over as quarterback to start the third quarter.
The decision changed the complexion of the game and put it squarely in Spring Valley’s favor, with Malashevich running for second half touchdowns of 39 and 12 yards that made all the difference in his team’s 21-13 win.
“That’s our offensive line right there, the big uglies. They did it for us,” Malashevich said. “You have three power 5 guys and then you have Jacob Hutchison, Luke Jarrell and Cody Stanley, guys like that who come to work every day and they got it done for us.”
The trio of power 5 conference players Malashevich spoke of include a pair of high-level Division I commits in Doug Nester and Zach Williamson, along with a likely future Division I player in sophomore Wyatt Milum.
While Owen Chafin and Isaac Howard handle the majority of the work between the tackles, Malashevich provides a change of pace with a mix of toughness and big play ability.
“We just felt like we could run with the quarterback. It gave us an extra guy in there and I’d be crazy if I didn’t put the ball in number 7’s hands,” Dingess said following the Capital game. “But we were getting a great push and I thought our line started wearing them down and winding on them. You could tell we were winning that battle by the body language in the fourth quarter.”
After the Cougars scored to pull within eight points with 7:22 remaining, the Timberwolves responded with a drive that sealed the verdict, picking up four first downs to run out the clock.
“Inching away and inching away on that last drive and you want to talk about some big runs on some big downs, between Isaac, Graeson and Owen, all three of them played a heck of a ball game,” Dingess said.
Defensively, Malashevich uses his instincts and speed to slow opposing team’s passing attacks and get in on slowing their running games.
He’s also an explosive kick returner and punt returner capable of putting his team in positions to succeed with his special teams prowess.
As the Timberwolves prepare to welcome Riverside on Friday, they do so as the No. 1 rated team in all of Class AAA and having already defeated four teams in Class AAA’s top 16.
Coming off a runner-up season in 2017, Spring Valley is on a mission to get back to Wheeling.
To do so, the Timberwolves will need Malashevich to be at his best and there’s no telling how he’ll be used.
“He’s flying under the radar, but he’s one of the best football players I’ve ever coached pound for pound and what he means to a football team,” Dingess said. “If I asked him to go in and play guard, he’d go in and play guard. He’s one of kind and something special.”