Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

November 29, 2013

Swan Valley RB Grace is Player of Year

EAST LANSING (AP) — Individual records don’t mean much to Saginaw Swan Valley junior running back Alex Grace, but rushing for a Michigan High School Athletic Association single-season record 2,952 yards in 2013 was important to him.

That’s because he doesn’t view it as an individual record.

In the eyes of Grace, the state rushing record was a team accomplishment.

“Nothing happens if we don’t all work together,” Grace said. “I just kept focusing on winning, and if the record came along with it, it came along with it.”

Grace was voted the Associated Press Division 3-4 Player of the Year by the 10-member panel that selects the AP All-State team, and plenty of winning did come along with his individual accolades.

Saginaw Swan Valley went undefeated in the regular season and won a Division 4 district championship.

Grace broke the rushing record on an 80-yard touchdown to give his team a fourth-quarter lead over Lansing Sexton in the regional championship round of the playoffs — the first time Sexton had trailed in the second half of a game all season.

Sexton came back to win the game, making Grace’s record-breaking performance bittersweet.

“After that touchdown, I didn’t know. I was told after the game,” Grace said. “I was excited, but I was disappointed that we didn’t win.”

The fact that the 6-foot-1, 205-pound back eclipsed the state rushing record on a fourth-quarter touchdown run was fitting, according to Swan Valley coach Ken Bourbina.

“The wear and tear of having to tackle him wears on teams,” Bourbina said. “If we could give him the room, he could do some special things.”

Running backs joining Grace on the Division 3-4 All-State first team are Sexton junior Avonte Bell, St. Joseph senior Jack Turak and Sault Area senior Ray’nell Anderson, who rushed for 1,352 yards and 17 touchdowns.

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