SPRING VALLEY - After the graduation of a senior class as decorated as Spring Valley's Class of 2019 was, among the bigger losses was Graeson Malashevich, an offensive weapon and playmaker who could play multiple offensive positions, as well as defense, and who has now taken his game to West Virginia University this season.
Left to address that loss, among others, Timberwolves head football coach Brad Dingess is turning to new players to fill those cleats as best he can.
One such athlete is David Livingston, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound, senior, who saw limited action on offense in his two previous years on the squad but stood out as a defensive back during that time. Like, Malashevich, Livingston can play multiple positions on offense, and while it may not be to the same production level, they possess similar leadership qualities.
"It's working pretty well on offense," Livingston said. "I always loved playing offense. On JV and freshman team I played running back and planning on doing that on varsity now."
It's more than a plan for Dingess who sees Livingston as, "the glue that holds a lot of it together," when he looks at his 2019 team. A jack-of-all-trades on offense while still being the defensive leader who calls plays in the backfield, Dingess said Livingston can play tailback, fullback and, with one of the best arms on the team, at quarterback too.
"(Livingston)'s one of our best receivers. He can play tight end, he can do all of that," Dingess said. "Defense, he's probably one of the best linebackers in the state but he plays free safety for us. He's the captain of that defense, he calls everything on the back end. He's a long-snapper and I mean, if you asked him to, he could punt and do a bunch of other stuff too."
As Livingston said, his experience with offense is limited.
During the 2017 campaign, Livingston carried the ball 19 times and gained 133 yards for a 7.0 average yard per carry. Behind last year's talented backfield however, Livingston carried the ball once for two yards.
In Spring Valley's limited passing scheme, Livingston has caught four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown during his career for the Timberwolves.
However, during his time on the freshman and junior varsity squads, Livingston said he rotated at quarterback with Nate Ellis who will be taking the majority of snaps under center this year. The two already have a rapport with each other.
"I know what he wants, he knows what I want," Livingston said of playing with Ellis. "We communicate well and get done what needs to be done."
As a defensive back, its been a vastly different story where Livingston's play has garnered attention from Virginia Tech.
Livingston was sixth on the Timberwolves' defense with 27 solo tackles in 2018. In the backfield, he led the team in both deflections (9) and interceptions with six and returned for 195 yards, according to team statistics.
In a 56-14 Spring Valley win over Capital in the Class AAA semifinals, Livingston intercepted two passes returning them for a combined 99 yards and one for a TD.
"He got to a point last year where the game slowed down for him," Dingess said. "He's smart and he could see things develop. He's prepared himself in the offseason to have a special year."
Both Livingston and Dingess shy away from comparisons to Malashevich.
"Graeson had a skill set that David didn't have and David holds a certain skill set that Graeson didn't have," Dingess said. "So (Livingston) will play multiple positions, not the same ones Graeson did but he creates problems for people. He's about 6-3 so if you get him matched up on a small corner he can take advantage of it. He's fast so if he's matched up with a linebacker he can do some things and he's a big strong kid that sees the field well so you can put him back there at tailback and let him carry it 20 times."
Livingston aspires to be more of a leader in the style of former Timberwolves running back Isaac Howard. "He didn't really talk that much but he led by example," Livingston said. "I can lead by example too."
Dingess does put Livingston on the level of some former Timberwolves greats whose last names inspire lasting images from the gridiron.
"If you look at the kids we've had; the Wellman's, Porter, Malashevich, even if you go back to Anthony Evans, these skill kids that play multiple positions not just a traditional one guy. (Livingston) can do a lot and the more comfortable (the coaches) are moving him through it'll be a week to week thing.
"He's got intangibles you can't teach. He's a got a great work ethic. He's blue collar, he's not a big talker but we can do a lot of stuff with him."
Now that he's seeing snaps on the offensive side of the ball, does he like offense better?
"Nah, I like hitting people," Livingston said. "That's what I like about defense."