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East County Athlete of the Week: Griffin DeRusso

The Out-of-Door Academy senior running back leads the Sunshine State Athletic Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns as of Sept. 26.

Griffin DeRusso. (Photo by Ryan Kohn.)
Griffin DeRusso. (Photo by Ryan Kohn.)
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Griffin DeRusso is a senior running back on The Out-of-Door Academy football team. DeRusso, who is 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, leads the Sunshine State Athletic Conference in rushing yards (707) and touchdowns (11) though five weeks as of Sept. 26. He has a visit to the University of South Florida scheduled for Oct. 1, pending the effects of Hurricane Ian. DeRusso will also play on the school's baseball team in the spring. 

When did you start playing football?

I started playing tackle football as a freshman at Berean Christian in Walnut Creek, California. I had only played flag football before then. My family didn't want me playing football at first. I was playing baseball and I had to beg them to let me try it. 

What is the appeal to you?

It is a feeling like no other. You work so hard and then you give it your best effort knowing the guys across the ball are giving their best, too. Doing that and then crossing the goal line or getting a long first down, I just love it. There's something different about going to war with your friends. 

What is your best skill?

My vision. It's just God-given, seeing where and when to hit a hole and then knowing what moves to do. 

What have you been working to improve?

I have been building up my speed and working on making my cuts sharper. I think that's the next step in becoming elite. 

What is your favorite memory?

My first-ever carry at Berean Christian as a freshman went for a touchdown. That was amazing. I remember thinking, 'I could get used to this.'

How does it feel to lead the conference in rushing?

I went into the season with high hopes. I knew all the work I had put in this offseason. This isn't from luck, you know? I expected to have success. 

What are your goals for the season?

As a team we have to keep the season rolling (the team is 5-0). Up and down the roster we have good athletes. It's not like it's just me out there. Everyone is super into this team and putting in the work. I see it every day, and to have it pay off, it's been cool. But we need to keep it up. 

What is your favorite food?

Chicken and rice is a go-to for me. Not as a pregame meal, though; I'll usually have a protein shake to get ready for those. 

What is your favorite movie?

I like 'Top Gun' a lot, the original one. But the new one is good, too. 

What is your favorite school subject?

I like business classes. I think that is what I am going to major in when I get to college. 

Which superpower would you pick?

I would pick super speed. It would be cool to be the fastest person in the world. 

What is the best advice you have received?

If you want something, go get it. Nothing is going to be handed to you. So if you want to be an elite athlete, you need to train like it, you need to eat like it, you need to do all things like you are elite. 

Finish this sentence: "Griffin DeRusso is …"

… Charismatic. I think having that tool is an underrated part of being an athlete. If your teammates don't like you, they're not going to want to play hard for you or with you, even if you're playing hard for them. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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