Basalt High football player Luis Arce invited to Blue-Grey combine in Denver
Listed at 5-foot-6, 168 pounds — although he says he’s closer to 5-7 these days — Basalt High School senior-to-be Luis Arce will be among the smallest players on the football field this weekend, especially considering his position.
Arce, who prefers playing linebacker to anything else, will take part in the 2017 Rocky Mountain Super Regional Combine Saturday and Sunday. Held at the Foothills Sports Arena in Denver, this weekend’s combine is part of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl super regional circuit, one of the country’s largest invite-only programs for prospective college football players.
“I’ve never had a kid do this,” Basalt football coach Carl Frerichs said. “He’s just a good kid, hard worker, and I’m proud he went out there and did this. When you look at these guys’ names and sizes, these guys are huge he’s competing against.”
Arce’s introduction to the Blue-Grey world came in May, when he was invited to attend the San Diego Regional. He said the invite came randomly early in the school year, and he wasn’t entirely sure if it was real or not.
Turns out it was, and Arce’s first trip to San Diego was an eye-opener.
“I was kind of surprised and excited,” Arce said about getting the first invite. “It is really difficult. Everyone there is 6-foot and above. But it teaches me to be more efficient with what I do. It teaches me that I have to learn the technique more and learn how to maybe lift more efficiently.”
The combine put the players through numerous drills, including 1-on-1 and 7-on-7, while testing skills like their 40-yard dash times. Most of the Blue-Grey coaches have a background playing in the National Football League.
“The coaches, when I went to San Diego, taught me a lot of stuff I didn’t know before about being a linebacker,” Arce said. “They taught me how to be more efficient and how to use my size to my advantage rather than use it to my disadvantage.”
As surprising as that first invite was, getting another invite to the super regional this weekend in Denver was even more so. Not only are players competing for the attention of college scouts, they are hoping to ultimately earn a spot in one of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowls, a prestigious honor for any high school player. Last year’s bowls were held in the home stadiums of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even if Arce isn’t among those chosen for the all-star games, he believes his experience will certainly pay off for the Longhorns in the fall. He plays mostly on the offensive and defensive line for BHS and will be a third-year starter as a senior. As a junior, Arce finished with 32 total tackles (25 solo), six tackles for loss and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
“It’s cool for our small school to get a kid there,” Frerichs said. “He said he had a blast at the first one. The kid is trying things. The more fun they can have and the more things they can try and have a good experience is really what it’s all about.”
For more on the combines, visit bluegreyfootball.com.
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Those opting for the spring, like Aspen and Basalt, will begin football practice Feb. 25 and start playing games March 11.