Mike Dyer reports:
Malik Grove understands pressure-packed situations. He should know.
The Lakota West quarterback has experienced plenty as a high school athlete.
As a freshman, Grove bowled a 300 game.
He has also played key roles on the basketball and track teams.
Grove bowled a 300 game Dec. 8, 2010, against Taylor at Fairfield Lanes.
He focused on basketball last season and plans to do so this upcoming year.
In an age of specialization, Grove says he likes playing as much as he can.
If he does football, basketball and track this season as expected, he said he will have 10 varsity letters.
“It’s funny his sophomore year – we were playing East – it basically came down to the last play of the game,” Lakota West football head coach Larry Cox said.
“I remember calling timeout – I already had the play in my mind what we were going to do. And he came running over and I said, ‘what do you think?’ He said the same play that I was going to call and I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, that’s what this position is all about, don’t you love the pressure and everything?’
“He said, ‘Coach this ain’t pressure. Roll 11 straight strikes and having the entire bowling alley standing behind looking at you and you have to throw a perfect ball. That’s more pressure than this.’ He went and throws the touchdown pass and we win.”
Grove, a three-year starter, understands he only gets one opportunity for his senior year.
Lakota West opens the season against Winton Woods Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Fairfield in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
“For me, it’s real special,” Grove said. “Senior year – you only get one shot. You have to work hard and do what you have to do to make it memorable.”
Grove is within reach of the Lakota District passing yards record, according to Lakota District historian Bob Ashby.
Grove, a first-team all-Greater Miami Conference selection last season, needs about 900 yards to break the all-time Lakota District record for passing yards.
“To be honest he is an extension of me,” Cox said. “Heck, at times I think he is smarter than me. You are talking about a kid who is a three-year starter.
“That hasn’t gone unnoticed by colleges.”
Being a quarterback, Grove understands how important the mental aspect of the game is to the offense.
“This year we are just preparing that much better,” Grove said. “You can come out here and play good, but it’s the way you prepare for the game is the way you play on the field.
“For me, preparing for the game and the mental mindset – just to be smarter than the other team makes you excel.”
Grove, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, has grown from a year ago.
He was 5 feet 10 and 165 pounds and this year is at 5-11 and almost 180.
He said he has added more film study, which allows him to pick his points to make up for his size.
“Gaining more weight is better for contact when I run a lot more this year,” he said.
Grove accounted for 22 total touchdowns last season.
He threw for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 555 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He’s just so mature,” Cox said. “He’s the kind of quarterback who wants the ball at crunch time.”
To me he has all the innate abilities. Physical characteristics – he has a very strong arm, plus his escapability is pretty good.”
Grove, who will be 17 in late September, has offers from Georgetown College, Notre Dame College, with schools like Davidson, Dayton and Indiana State in the mix.
Grove said his future is football and he would like to play quarterback if he has his druthers.
“I mean quarterback is first love, but I just like being on the field and making plays,” Grove said.
Said Cox: “You couldn’t ask for a better kid. As good of an athlete he is, he’s a better person.”