Dano the same old guy despite accolades

By: Matt Long
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Dave and Angela Graves couldn't be any prouder of their son, Dano. The Folsom High senior had one of the greatest football seasons ever by a high school player in California and last week was named the MaxPreps National Player of the Year, receiving the award in front of family, teammates, Folsom High administration and a slew of media. Through it all, Dano is the same Dano he's always been, a polite young man. After Dano received the award and said a few words, his dad was beaming. "What an amazing, humble speech," Dave said. "You know Dano's never had a big head through all this. There was a book we used to read to him when he was little about a boy named Louie who always wanted people to look at him. We always told him, 'don't be a look at me, Louie.'" Graves, however, was hard not to notice when MaxPreps was looking for the national player of the year. Graves put up unbelievable numbers: 3,702 passing yards, 62 passing touchdowns, 994 yards rushing, 23 rushing touchdowns for a combined total of 85 touchdowns, a state record. On top of that, he led Folsom to a Division II state championship, as the team finished the season with a 14-1 record. Steve Montoya, MaxPreps national director of content, was one of many who did notice Graves. "It wasn't until late in the season when we started talking about Dano," Montoya said. "Our national football editor, Steve Spiewak, is based out of Chicago and he wasn't leaning toward Dano and I told him he had to come out and watch him in the state championship game. He did come out and after the game Dano was our unanimous choice." Andy Beal, founder and president of MaxPreps, was equally impressed with Dano's accomplishments this season. "John Elway, Tom Brady and Matt Sanchez went to high school in California and didn't put up numbers like Dano did," Beal said. "Eighty-five touchdowns in one season is truly remarkable." Beal also noted the accomplishments of the team that Dano quarterbacked. On their way to winning the state championship, the Bulldogs defeated Pleasant Grove, Vacaville, Buhach Colony, Grant and Serra, who entered their games against Folsom with a combined record of 57-1. "They came out of those games with an 0-5 record," Beal said. Graves was honored to receive the award and thankful for all those who came to see it presented to him. "I'd like to thank the Lord for blessing me with such a great group of guys (as teammates)," Graves said. "Two weeks ago I felt lucky to just be on the watch list for this award. It's an amazing feat. This is probably the high point of my life and I'll remember it forever. "I want to thank my parents and grandparents and my aunt, the coaching staff, Troy Taylor, our fans and the community. It's an amazing accomplishment for me and I appreciate everybody." Graves is now focusing on where he will attend college in the fall. He visited the Air Force Academy over the weekend and has visits scheduled with Portland State and Sacramento State coming up. Most National High School Players of the Year have all the big schools knocking down their door, but at 5-foot, 9-inches tall, Graves didn't gain serious interest from most of the Division I schools, who are looking for the prototypical 6’2” quarterback. Considering Graves' accomplishments this season, maybe that could be the biggest impact he's had on the national prep scene. "Dano changed our perspective of what a high school quarterback is supposed to be," MaxPreps' Chris Stonebraker said.