Royce Fasel is changing the Glencoe football program — one game at a time.
Three years ago, then-second-year head coach Ian Reynoso sat the then-freshman down, and together, they made a decision to change the trajectory of Glencoe football.
Since then, Fasel has done everything Reynoso could imagine to do just that.
He's played linebacker, safety, running back, on special teams, and this year, quarterback — where the standout has led the Crimson Tide to a 3-2 record.
But while his play stands head-and-shoulders above most on the field, it's off the field where Coach Reynoso said Fasel impresses the most.
"He's one of the best humans I've been around in terms of his priorities," Reynoso said. "It's family before anything, friends and relationships, and then football. He's one of those kids that can turn it on when he hits the field, but when he leaves it, he knows what's truly important."
That's not to say Fasel doesn't work on his craft. In fact, Reynoso said, he's never seen anyone work harder. Whether it's in the weight room, watching film or on the practice field, Fasel's thirst for improvement knows no bounds, his coach says.
"He's all about winning, and he wants to get the most from his ability," Reynoso said. "He's never been a guy who's like, 'I've arrived.' When we watch film, he's always pointing out the things he did wrong and how he's going to fix it. It's a humbling place to be as a coach to have a kid that's constantly asking for feedback and wanting to get better, because it makes you, as a coach, need to make sure you're feeding that hunger."
Fasel has always loved the game. The son of a college football player, he said it was always expected that he'd play. But while his dad introduced him to it, it was his affinity for it — and his love of competition — that kept him playing from the time he first strapped on a helmet in the second grade.
"We're a pretty competitive family, so I just like having someone lined up across from me," Fasel said, "And having that mindset of, 'I'm going to beat you no matter what.'"
And he's been doing that ever since.
Fasel started at linebacker his freshmen year at Glencoe and slowly worked his way into the running back position as well. By his sophomore season, he was a first-team all-league selection at three positions (running back, linebacker, kick returner) and was an all-state honorable mention on defense, the first Crimson Tide player so honored since 2010.
Yet despite his accolades to this point, Fasel's greatest accomplishment so far may be his success at his new position, quarterback — a position he'd never played before last spring.
Through five games, the 6-foot, 240-pound Fasel has rushed for 1,041 yards and thrown for 563 yards with 18 total touchdowns.
Most importantly for the Tide, they're winning.
At 3-2 and No. 27-ranked in the OSAA's latest rankings, Glencoe is on pace to make this year's state playoffs. The Tide have wins over Hillsboro, Reynolds and Beaverton, and a narrow defeat to state power Sheldon in the season opener, coupled with their first real "stinker" this past Friday — a 56-21 loss to Liberty.
Against Beaverton on Sept. 24, Fasel played maybe his best game, rushing for 299 yards, throwing for another 179 yards on 13-of-17 pass attempts, and accounting for all seven of the Tide's touchdowns en route to a 50-49 comeback road win over the Beavers.
Impressed, yes, but Reynoso says he isn't surprised by the senior's performance. He knows he's more than comfortable putting the team on his back.
"Royce understands that as the quarterback, it's his job to set the tone for the team," Reynoso said. "They look at him different now, and he's learned how to best wield that power in an effort to win games."
Fasel has always had leadership qualities.
The son of an elementary school principal and former teacher, Fasel said his mother has helped him realize the differences in how people learn. He said he's taken that knowledge and applied it to his team, understanding that in order to get the best out of them as a whole, he needs to approach each individual differently.
"I realized that I learn differently, so why should I expect other people to all learn the same?" Fasel asked rhetorically. "Everyone does things and prepares differently, so because of that, I need to understand how they learn best and teach them and communicate to them that way."
It's that mature understanding, coupled with an off-the-charts work ethic, that leaves little doubt for Reynoso as to Fasel's potential at the collegiate level. But recruiters seem blind to the ability that Reynoso said makes Fasel the state's best "football player." To this point, the Glencoe standout has received no offers from college programs at any level, and Reynoso said he's stupefied by the lack of interest.
"My wife and I were both college athletes at Oregon, and we talk a lot about that next level and what it takes," Reynoso said. "I'm dumbfounded that coaches aren't clamoring to get a hold of this kid. You can put him at linebacker, defensive tackle, fullback, and wherever you put him, he's going to make plays — but more than that, he's going to help define the culture of your program."
Reynoso said he's had discussions with the University of Iowa about Fasel as a fullback for the Hawkeyes, citing a handful of similar-sized athletes playing the position on their roster. They were receptive and were open to an evaluation, but Reynoso said in his mind, there's no doubt there's a spot for Fasel at some level of college football, if not in Division I.
"I'd put my entire coaching career on the fact that this kid, if he's healthy and nothing weird were to happen, is a Division I college football player, because I played at Oregon with guys that weren't as good as he is," the Glencoe coach said. "I'm not going to push a kid that I don't think can play, and he's that good. If you put him at Linfield, I'd say he's an all-American. At Portland State, an all-conference player and probably two- to three-year starter. And if he were a preferred walk-on at a Division I program, he'd earn a scholarship by the end of his first year, and that's off of my knowledge from who I am and what I've seen."
Fasel would love nothing more than to play in college. But he also wants to win a state championship, and he has goals off the football field as well.
"I'd like to study agriculture and farm and ranch management," Fasel said. "My goal one day is to have some land that I can pass down to my kids."
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