GRANVILLE — Dante Varrasso flew under the radar as an underclassmen on a senior-heavy Granville football team in 2021. But this fall, he wasted no time — not even a single play — in making his mark.
He caught the opening kick in the home opener against Clear Fork at the 10-yard line near the right sideline, wiggled left, cut back right, powered through an arm tackler at the 25, then blazed another 75 yards through the end zone.
Fans at Granville’s Walter J. Hodges Stadium may not have recognized the 6-foot junior sporting jersey No. 4 as he returned no kicks and recorded just four receptions as a sophomore receiver struggling with a broken wrist last fall. But the name announced on the PA system after the score certainly rang a bell.
Oh, Varrasso, the basketball kid. Dante was better known around town as the star of the school’s basketball squad. A varsity starter since his freshman year and a first-team Licking County League point guard as a sophomore, he was the heart and soul of a Granville hoops squad that won a share of the Buckeye Division title this past winter.
Varrasso has proven to be much more than just a hooper this fall. On the gridiron, the two-way standout has caught 43 balls for 597 yards and seven touchdowns from his own quarterback and two additional passes from opposing throwers on defense following last Friday’s 37-7 victory at Zanesville.
Those stats are available to the public online on Digital Scout, but Varrasso hasn’t taken the time to check them out. When told he had snagged five touchdown passes in the first five games, he responded as if he had no idea. He couldn’t care less about stuffing state sheets; his only goal this season is to win a regional championship.
“Dante is a team-first guy and works very hard to perfect his craft,” said coach Wes Schroeder, whose Blue Aces (6-2, 1-1) visit Licking Valley (4-4, 1-1) for an LCL -Buckeye battle on Friday. “He’s such a great example for the younger kids, and we are lucky to have him.”
Check out the Licking County 2022 football season schedule
The athletic ability has always been there, but senior quarterback Tyler Ernsberger said what has made the difference for Varrasso in between the white lines this fall is the work that he put into refining his fundamentals.
“I think Dante has made a huge jump from last year to this year,” Ernsberger said. “His route running, hands and playmaking ability have all improved.”
And Ernsberger surely appreciates the fact that he is the main benefactor of Varrasso’s growth. Varrasso already has almost identical to the numbers older brother Dominic posted in his senior season in 2019.
“To know that when I throw it up to him, he’s going to come down with it 95% of the time is huge.”
Dante Varrasso lives for sport and competition. No surprise, his favorite hobby outside of football and basketball is another sport, golf. He wants to keep competing as an athlete at the next level, but he hasn’t started thinking too hard about colleges yet. For now, he’s having fun under the lights with the same guys he grew up playing football with.
So much fun, in fact, that he might just have a new favorite sport.
“It’s been basketball my whole life,” he said. “But this year — Friday nights, I don’t know. It’s hard to decide.”