Cullen Grabast is going through more of a transition than most of his teammates this week, as the West squad practices at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina ahead of Saturday’s Kansas Shrine Bowl in El Dorado.
While he’s more than comfortable on the gridiron, he’s accustomed to a smaller field. The three-sport standout from Osborne is one of four players going from eight-man to 11-man football in Saturday’s game.
Some of his teammates on the West squad come from schools with larger enrollments than Osborne’s population. Representing the small schools is something Grabast takes pride in.
“It shows that although you’re from a small school, you can come out here and play with the big dogs,” Grabast said.
The week of practice and Saturday’s game will give Grabast a taste of his future. After helping Osborne to an unbeaten run to the Eight-man Division I state title last fall, Grabast plans to enroll at McPherson College in August where he’ll be a member of the Bulldogs’ football team as a wide receiver.
“It’s a little bit different,” Grabast said of the 11-man game. “The field is bigger. Plays are a little more complex and difficult.”
Although Grabast hauled in 19 passes for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns last fall, he primarily served as a dual-threat quarterback. He finished his senior season with more than 1,600 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns and passed for an additional 272 yards and eight scores. Against St. Francis in the state title game, Grabast showcased his versatility.
He completed 10 of 11 passes with a pair of scores and rushed 25 times for 196 yards and two more scores. When classmate Justin Burch was calling the shots, Grabast caught three passes for 19 yards.
At Tuesday’s practice, Grabast was working with the West offense at his future position. The coaches seemed to be aware of his versatility, sending the receiver out on intermediate routes and featuring him on end arounds and misdirection plays.
His only complaint thus far deals with something he or anyone else on the field has no control over.
“Practice has been a little hot,” Grabast said. “Other than that, it’s been getting the offense learned, getting everything down ready for gameday.”
Earlier this summer, Grabast was amongst the players invited to play in the Eight-Man All-Star Game in Beloit. He had an interception return for a touchdown. The Shrine Bowl is about far more than football, however.
That’s another part the eight-man all-state selection is looking forward to.
“We’re going to meet the Shriner kids,” said Grabast when asked what he’s looking for to over the rest of the week. “I think that’s really going to focus me on what we’re really playing for.”