Rep­re­sent­ing Peters­burg

Fred Rasp­berry to play in na­tion­ally tele­vised Blue-Grey Bowl

The Progress-Index - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Van­de­loecht Staff Writer

PETERS­BURG — His fi­nal high school foot­ball sea­son is over, and Fred Rasp­berry III is still in the weight room, lift­ing and get­ting into shape for what’s to come.

In the long term, that means col­lege foot­ball.

And in one day from now, that means play­ing the game he loves at an NFL foot­ball sta­dium in front of a na­tional au­di­ence.

The hard work is pay­ing off, and Rasp­berry for his ef­forts will rep­re­sent his City of Peters­burg, the Tri-Cities re­gion and the greater RVA area in Satur­day’s Blue-Grey All-Amer­i­can Bowl, fea­tur­ing tal­ented high school foot­ball play­ers from across the coun­try.

“It’s go­ing to be a good ex­pe­ri­ence, make new friends, and just go­ing against the top peo­ple in the coun­try from other places — that’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing,” said Rasp­berry.

The All-Amer­i­can game will take place Satur­day, Jan. 14, 1 p.m. at the Jack­sonville Jaguars’ Ever­Bank Field in Jack­sonville, Florida.

The game will be na­tion­ally tele­vised on ESPN3.

“Man, when I found out the game’s on ESPN ... I was shocked my­self,” Rasp­berry said smil­ing. “I’m like, that’s the whole world watch­ing ... I’ve got to put my best show on.”

The foot­ball camps he went to — and also the time he ded­i­cated to per­fect­ing his craft — helped Rasp­berry make the Blue team’s ros­ter in the pres­ti­gious matchup. Rasp­berry be­lieves that if you put the time in, “the suc­cess is go­ing to come right back to you.”

The six-foot, 205-pound se­nior line­backer in 2016 helped

lead the Peters­burg High School Crimson Wave to the sec­ond round of the play­offs and was named to First Team All-State and Sec­ond Team All-Metro.

Rasp­berry also played in the 2016 Big River Ri­valry game on the South All-Stars team, in which he was proud of his team­mate Huc­k­eeve Bai­ley for earn­ing the South team’s Most Valu­able Player award and scor­ing a touch­down on a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

Rasp­berry over the course of the sea­son racked up 127 tack­les, made an in­ter­cep­tion in the Wave’s first game of 2016 at Not­toway and had at least

seven sacks. Rasp­berry has re­ceived col­le­giate of­fers from schools in­clud­ing Vir­ginia State, Vir­ginia Union and Chowan.

Rasp­berry said he’s the first per­son from Peters­burg since Quin­ton Spain to go to the All-Amer­i­can game.

“That’s a big honor,” Rasp­berry said. “Plus, af­ter I come back, my hel­met [from the All-Amer­i­can game is] gonna be placed in the tro­phy case, so that’s big, too.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, par­tic­i­pat­ing play­ers will each re­ceive a ring from the All-Amer­i­can Bowl Game.

The Blue-Grey fea­ture on Satur­day will high­light some of the pre­mier Class of 2017 foot­ball prospects across much of the na­tion from Florida, Louisiana and Texas to Ne­braska and

Ari­zona. Head coaches for the two teams are NFL vet­er­ans Dick Bell (Blue) and Quinn Gray (Grey).

Rasp­berry will play on the Blue team along with other ath­letes from Vir­ginia: Norfolk’s Dar­riel Mack, a Norview se­nior quar­ter­back and UCF Knights com­mit; Ch­e­sa­peake’s AJ From­melt, a Great Bridge se­nior de­fen­sive back; Shar­mane Alexan­der, a se­nior line­backer from Brunswick; and Army com­mit Noah Knapp, a se­nior of­fen­sive line­man from Vir­ginia Beach. Rasp­berry’s po­si­tion for the game is line­backer.

Out­side of the game, Rasp­berry said he’s look­ing for­ward to the beach, the sun, the weather and “just a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere” down in Florida.

NI­CHOLAS VAN­DE­LOECHT/PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM FILE PHO­TOS

Peters­burg Foot­ball’s Fred Rasp­berry (right) at­tempts to bring down a Not­toway player in the Wave’s 2016 sea­son opener.

Peters­burg Foot­ball’s Fred Rasp­berry III lines up for a play on the South All-Stars foot­ball team in the 4th An­nual Big River Ri­valry game held af­ter the con­clu­sion of the VHSL high school foot­ball sea­son.

Rasp­berry

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