Can Tyler Pine come close to Maldonado’s 2006 Player-of-the-Year campaign? He will get a shot.
During his junior year, Pine received an unfriendly welcome to the varsity level when Reed lost three of its first five games of the fall. The Raiders scored a combined 27 points in those losses.
Pine also was banged up several times throughout the year, but he finished with respectable numbers, completing 157 of 234 passes for 2,317 yards. He also threw for 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
“I think the expectations are very high for Tyler,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “He had such a great year last year as a junior and did so many great things in the passing game. He ran the no-huddle offense as efficiently as you could run it. I think you’re going to see Tyler take his game to a new level every week. He challenges himself to keep getting better.”
But Reed only finished with a 7-5 record and was third in the High Desert League standings behind Hug and eventual state champion McQueen.
The Raiders’ struggles were in part based on an inconsistent offense. Reed averaged 33 points per game, but in four of the five losses, it tallied 14 or fewer points.
The Raiders’ defense was also suspect at times, allowing 53 points to Hug during the league schedule and a season-high 55 points in a regional semifinal loss to end the season at McQueen.
Defense might be a question mark again this year. The Raiders enter the year with a new defensive coordination after Ron Coombs took over as the school’s athletic director, and they also only return four starters on the defensive side of the ball – Johnny Locke, Mario Murillo, Trevor Burns and Brandon Mondragon.
When Reed instituted a spread offense years ago, points started coming in bunches. That will likely be the case again this year with several key weapons for Pine coming back.
Last year’s leading rusher, Christian Thompson (596 yds, 7 TDS), is back for his senior year, while Aaron Greenblat is expected to be one of the leading wide receivers after catching 28 passes for four touchdowns a year ago.
Lining up at another wideout will be senior Irslan Sabir. He did not see much action last year, but Howren said he could have a big impact.
Unlike the past, the Raiders don’t really have a standout playmaker on offense and Howren expects it to be more of a go-to guy by committee. But with a big and experienced offensive line of Kyle Roberts, Garrett Corbett, Matt Messerli and Burns, Howren believes there will be many holes for guys to utilize.
The Raiders have not won a league title since 2006, Maldonado’s senior season. It’s been even longer since Reed was in the regional title game, the last being 2004 when it won the championship.
However, the Blue and Gold will certainly be prepared for runs at HDL and regional crowns after scheduling another year of tough non-league matchups, which includes games at Bishop Manogue and Franklin (Stockton, Calif.) as well as home games with Oceanside from the San Diego area and up-and-coming Carson.
“I absolutely love our non-league schedule. It’s very tough,” Howren said. “I don’t think you could have asked for a much stronger non-league schedule.”
Reed always has talented teams, but the strength this season might be its team chemistry and camaraderie.
“They’re working hard. These guys have been around each other so long they act like they’ve been there,” Howren said. “They know each other’s attitudes and how to get each other motivated…Whether it’s a 4th-and-2 situation where they have to get the two yards or come up with a stop, they know how to come together and get that done.”