LOUISA Ray Granillo didn’t seem bothered by the conditions at a sweltering late-afternoon football practice in early August at Luke Varney Jr. Memorial Stadium.
Neither literal nor metaphorical heat is likely to get to Lawrence County’s new quarterbacks coach. Granillo has completed four Middle East tours combining the two most stressful jobs there are, according to CareerCast’s 2017 rankings — enlisted military and firefighter.
Granillo’s resume includes nine and a half years in the U.S. Air Force, during which time he rose to battalion chief in the branch’s fire department. Granillo did two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, he said, participating in medical evacuations, providing front-line care and fighting fires, just “pulling guys out of bad situations,” he said.
Granillo got out of the Air Force in 2010 and returned to Afghanistan as a civilian continuing some of the same work, he said.
So, though Lawrence County has been through the stress of eight games decided by a single possession in Alan Short’s two years as head coach, Granillo isn’t likely to buckle under the pressure of anything that happens on a football field in Louisa, Inez or Stanton.
If anything, it may be helpful for Granillo, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after an episode overseas.
“I responded to a suicide bombing,” he recalled, “and there were a lot of people hurt real bad. They were attacking us when it happened, and I crawled through a lot of blood and body parts, and put tourniquets on people.
“It was very stressful, so my job kind of said, you need to take a break and go home and just get some things squared away on your own, and we’ll go from there.”
Working with the Bulldogs has helped. Granillo, who hails from Tucson, Arizona, played quarterback in high school and semi-professionally while serving overseas, and he’s passing that knowledge along to Lawrence County senior signal-caller Noah West.
“This has actually been very therapeutic for that, because PTSD is such a difficult thing to deal with,” Granillo said. “I just have to have some kind of outlet to just decompress and destress.”
Granillo, 34, met his wife while both were in the Air Force. He came to Louisa, her hometown, for good in October, he said. He got connected with the Bulldogs after talking to his neighbor, Lawrence County defensive line coach Ryan Sammons.
“The leadership and enthusiasm that he brings is different,” Short said, “and sometimes we’ve all been doing this such a long time, it’s nice to get a fresh perspective from someone who’s from the outside. I think he’s definitely elevated my coaching level.”
Short, himself a former Lawrence County QB, and Granillo have worked together to groom West, one of the top rushers in the state statistically last season. The Bulldogs want to add more of a passing threat to their repertoire this season.
“It’s good going into the technical things with him, just fine-tuning everything, because he’s such a great athlete,” Granillo said of West. “We all know he’s a great runner, but for him to be able to come out and throw the ball 40, 50 yards is a big change for him, and it’s a big change for everybody.
“Just like Tom Brady right now is getting coaching from somebody, I’m just trying to help where I can, with footwork and different technical things throwing the ball.”
It’s working, according to the quarterback.
“It’s very exciting to have him in the program,” West said. “He’s brought a lot of energy and a lot of experience. He’s a military man, and he’s very driven and knows how to motivate people and get the best out of them.”
If, as Granillo says, his relationship with Lawrence County is mutually beneficial, Short feels like he got the better end of the deal.
“Whatever we’ve given to him, he’s returned that twofold to us,” the coach said. “He’s been nothing but an exceptional leader for our program.”
(606) 326-2658 |