Melrose senior-gridders taking names

Jesse Wolfersberger: Freedom Newspapers

Six Melrose seniors are trying to go out the same way they came in — undefeated.

Quarterback Brock Graham has a suggestion for anyone who doubts their chances.

“Come see a game. The scoreboard says it all,” Graham said. “We could stand here and yack all we want, but we talk on the field.”

Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said their junior high teams went undefeated in seventh and eighth grade, and the Buffaloes stand at 4-0 this season.

The seniors, Graham, running back Carlos Ruiz, safety Spenser Johnson, guard Justin Lockmiller, running back Cedar Rush and defensive end Tyler Tatum, have played under Roybal since middle school, but this year will be their last together.

Playing under a coach for six years, some things just come easier.

“It makes running plays and stuff a lot easier because you don’t have to change plays every year,” Brock Graham said. “Timing and stuff, it’s almost second nature.”

This season has brought wins and plenty of points, but Rush said it also brought some unexpected things.

“It’s been great so far,” Rush said. “You don’t expect to have this many friends. There is a bond — they’ve got your back.”
Roybal thinks this year’s team is the hardest working he’s ever seen.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say that there isn’t a six-man team that works as hard as we do,” Roybal said. “There are a lot of things these kids have done for me and never quit. That says a lot for the kids.”

Roybal’s players say just as much about him.
“He’s a friend,” Graham said. “You know you can go to him if you have a problem or something. He’s like a classmate. But on the field, he demands a lot out of you.”

Graham said this season’s last game could be a tear jerker.

“It will be tough knowing that it’s our last football game under him,” Graham said. “We haven’t experienced it yet, so there is no telling what it’s gonna be like. At least we have him for basketball and track.”

Roybal said, as a coach, the toughest thing will not be the last game, it will be the first game next year.

“We’ll have a lot of shoes to fill,” Roybal said. “Obviously we’ll have to rebuild. It’s gonna be hard, I’ll be starting a freshman quarterback next year.”