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RB: Emmanuel Ortega, Soledad
RB: Anthony Villegas, Palma
RB: DeMarcus Hawkins, Seaside
RB: Ritchie Cerda, Salinas
QB: Brett Reade, Salinas
WR: Angel Olivas, Soledad
WR: Rashaan Ward, Carmel
WR: Jeff Weimer, Salinas
TE/WR: Clay Barbree, King City
Utility: Andrew Marquez, Alisal
OL: Kefu Leander, Marina
OL: Cody Gentry, Salinas
OL: Isaac Duenas, Alisal
OL: Mike Lizaola, Palma
OL: Monu Tuivailala, Seaside
Brett Reade went into his senior season at Salinas High knowing this would be his last year donning football pads and a helmet.
Incredible success hasn’t changed the quarterback’s belief — not even after compiling 32 touchdowns either through the air or on the ground and becoming The Herald’s All-County Offensive Player of the Year.
“You kind of look at each play as perhaps your last,” Reade said. “This season went by faster than any other season. I tried to enjoy every second, even practice.”
Which is why Reade wasn’t prepared to walk off the field a final time in Salinas’ 43-42 overtime loss to Placer in the CIF NorCal Division 4-AA playoffs.
“No I wasn’t,” Reade said. “When the gamed ended, I was in shock. I just stood there in disbelief. You can’t prepare for a season to be over.”
Reade never envisioned the season he put together for the Central Coast Section Open Division I champions, compiling more than 3,000 yards in total offense.
“I never think about individual stats,” said Reade, a hurdler in track. “All my goals were team-driven. But looking back and seeing what I’ve done, it’s pretty sweet.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Reade became the first player at Salinas to compile more than 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 passing yards in a single season, throwing for 1,850 yards and rushing for 1,180.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback run like that,” Salinas coach Steve Zenk said. “He has a high IQ. He did a great job in reading defenses. He got better and better in reading what opponents were giving us.”
The Most Valuable Player of the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division got better as the year progressed, compiling 1,044 yards and 12 touchdowns in the postseason. When teams began to focus on stopping him from running, Reader aired it out, throwing for 785 yards in four playoff games.
“We look at the skill set the kid has and adjust to what we’re doing,” Zenk said. “He did what we thought he was capable of doing when he was a freshmen.”
That meant turning Reade loose with the offense, allowing him to read and react on runs or just air it out to his receiving core.
“I grew as a quarterback,” Reade said. “I learned as we went along. It took a few games to get comfortable with the system. Look at my first three games.”
Reade was referring to the fact that he didn’t have 100 yards throwing the ball in any of his first three games. The result saw Salinas sitting at 1-2.
“We invested a lot of time with him,” Zenk said. “He got better throwing the ball each week. He throws a great ball. He gets rid of the ball fast. He makes good decisions.”
Reade went 75 passes between interceptions, completing all 19 of his attempts in a win over Palma. He also went over 100 yards rushing in five of the Cowboys’ seven league games.
“I knew there would be quarterback runs,” Reade said. “But I never envisioned rushing for over 1,000 yards.”
Opposing teams’ game plans were specific: Stop Reade.
“Man what a competitor,” said former Alvarez coach Brad Mendes, who coached Reade at the lower levels at Salinas. “Even when we were in the right spots, he had the ability to make us wrong. We knew he was the type of kid that’s going to bring it every play.”
You can make the argument that no player improved more over the course of the season than Reade, who guided the Cowboys on a record 10-game winning streak, that included an undefeated league season for the first time since 2002.
“This group of seniors has always been close,” Reade said. “We’ve been playing together before high school. But no, I didn’t envision doing this.”
This being the school-record win streak, league title, section title and ending a 15-year losing streak to Palma.
“To be honest, I don’t think we really thought about what we were accomplishing,” Reade said. “Each week we’d move on and set new goals. That was all coach Zenk.”
That’s not to suggest there wasn’t a lockerroom celebration after beating Palma, or ending a four-year losing streak at Aptos to capture the league title.
“The moment was never too big for us,” Reade said. “We just rode into the next week. We never sat back and reminisced. We had business to take care off. That was our approach.”
While Reade recalled a touchdown pass to Kelly McDermott against Palma as a highlight moment, beating Milpitas in the CCS title game was the game he’ll cherish the most.
“No one expected us to beat them, except ourselves,” Reade said. “The second drive of the game was the turning point. We knew from that point we could score on them.”
While talk of extending his football career has been brought up, the likelihood is Reade has played his last game — minus an upcoming all-star game.
“I’m going to miss our coaches,” Reade said, “being with my best friends every day at practice. I’ll obviously miss the Friday Night Lights of running out of the tunnel at ‘The Pit.’”
Contact John Devine at 831-726-4337.