In-control Ross set to channel emotional, hard-hitting style into bigger role for Valley

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 | 10:39 PM

Deonte Ross walks a fine line with his emotions on the football field.

One of Valley's leaders on the field, Ross often channeled his intensity into delivering bruising blocks as an all-conference fullback last season. But become too intense, too emotional, and negative things can happen.

After crossing that imaginary line at times last season, Ross comes into his junior season not only as an expected key figure on the field but also a stabilizing presence.

“He's like the calming force now,” Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said. “If you'd have told me that a year ago, I'd have said you're crazy. You need to find a place to go. But he tries to take control, tells people to relax, things like that. And he's under much better control himself.”

As he helped clear holes for Chase Balla, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards, Ross at times became frustrated with his own role. It culminated with the Vikings' game against rival Burrell, when Colosimo benched Ross for talking back.

“I wanted the ball more so I could help my team out more,” Ross said. “Chase getting the ball every play, it worked, but I feel I should be a big part of it, too, instead of just being left out. Once you're just giving the ball to one guy, they know what you're doing.

“I had an attitude. I've been working at it, getting better at it. (I'm learning) just to keep things to myself, keep the negativity out.”

Recognition of his leadership role made that all the more important.

“A lot of people on this team look up to me,” Ross said. “If I'm down, then the whole team's down. And when I'm up, the whole team's up, and it's better.”

On the field, Ross will take on an even greater role this season as he switches from fullback to the featured back in Colosimo's run-based offense.

“I told him to get in shape because if I'm going to be calling plays, he's going to be doing a ton of running,” Colosimo said of the powerful Ross. “I told him to be ready to carry the ball 30 to 40 times a game. He lost a little bit of weight. He's strong as heck. I think he's ready.

“Nobody really got to know a lot about him last year … but more than anything I think he's a guy that's going to be one of the heaviest-recruited guys in the area next year.”

Ross also could become an important part of Valley's passing game alongside receivers Noah Hutcherson, Darius Johnson, Shawn Demharter and Alex Wood, among others.

Colosimo plans to use Ross extensively on defense, mainly at linebacker, for the first time after seeing his hard hitting at fullback.

“Making people scared of me, that's what I plan to do,” Ross said.

In preparation for his expanded role — he plays on the special teams return and coverage units and also might punt — Ross dedicated himself to training in the offseason, dropping weight and gaining speed.

“I run a lot. I run bleachers. I do miles on the track, just trying to stay in shape,” he said. “If we're in a big game, it should help because everybody else will be tired, and I'll be still able to do what I'm doing once the fourth quarter comes around.”

With Valley coming off back-to-back winning seasons — yet no playoff appearances in that time — Ross knows how important a part he will play in the team's ultimate success.

He can't wait to get started.

“I plan to do big things,” he said.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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