By Pete Chiodo
2013 Football Player of the Year: Blake Reddick
School: Lakeview High School
Position: Running back/defensive back
Vitals: Blake Reddick’s accomplishments this season have been bandied about plenty, and with very good reason: They are simply astounding. The Sailors’ 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior tailback rushed for 2,974 yards — the most in all of Pennsylvania this season — and 33 touchdowns on 263 carries, setting a new yardage record not only at his school — which has had its share of prolific running backs over the years — but in all of District 10. Those 2,974 yards smashed the former record of 2,444 yards set by Mercyhurst Prep’s Aaron Horton in 2010. And that single-season mark may not even be the best part. This year was actually Reddick’s second straight 2,000-yard campaign and third straight with 1,000 or more yards. At his career’s end, Reddick leaves with a staggering 6,548 yards rushing — that’s 3.7 miles against some of the top Class A defenses in the district. He gained it all on 778 carries — an average of 8.4 yards per carry for his career — and rushed in a total of 64 touchdowns. That career yardage total is another District 10 record, besting the pervious mark of 6,241 yards set by Sharon’s T.J. Phillips in 1999. We didn’t even get to Reddick’s ability on defense, where he grew into a fantastic pass defender, grabbing a team-high seven interceptions this season while breaking up four other passes and causing two fumbles.
Season highlights: Oh boy. Where to begin? Reddick made a habit out of highlight reel performances this season. There was the 248-yard, four-TD performance against Mercer; the six-carry, 206-yard, three-touchdown show against Iroquois; the 262 yards and five touchdowns on 10 carries against Union City; the 306 yards and three TDs against Franklin; the 269 yards and four TDs against Kennedy Catholic; or the 12-carry, 391-yard, five-TD performance versus Cochranton. However, undoubtedly the most memorable game for Reddick, and indeed the entire Sailors squad, was against Sharpsville on Nov. 22. Reddick didn’t have his biggest game (with 150 yards and three TDs, it was still pretty terrific), however it did lead Lakeview to its first-ever District 10 title as the Sailors defeated the two-time defending champion Blue Devils 27-0.
What the coach says: “He’s extremely strong,” said Sailors head coach Dan York. “He’s your 50 dips, 20 pull-ups, he squatted over 300 pounds. That’s his physical makeup. ... And he could cut as well as any kid that we’ve ever had. And we’ve had a lot of good tailbacks at Lakeview. But what separates Blake is that he cuts so well. There were times when even if we didn’t block something exactly right he would make the right cut. In fact, I look at film and I can only really remember one time where he cut towards the middle and it was wrong. He made one cut and I said, ‘Blake, you should have never made that cut inside. All the bad guys are in there. Get away from the bad guys.’ That happened one time. He runs with his eyes. ... What a lot of people don’t see ... is has absolutely great hands. A lot of people don’t get to see that. The past couple years, we’ve been going to some passing scrimmages and when he catches some of these balls the people watching say to me, ‘Did you see how he just caught that?’ ... He’s just a good athlete. He’s a great kid. And I’m glad that he’s getting all these accolades. He deserves it.”
What we say: This pick was the dictionary definition of the phrase ‘no-brainer.’ Reddick’s record-breaking statistics alone would have been enough for him to garner Player of the Year honors. (They were enough to land him on this year’s Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State Team.) Yet, Reddick really had to be seen to get the full picture of the kind of running back he was; the mix of speed, strength and on-field smarts that he possessed. Even those gaudy stats don’t fully explain the uncanny way he could muscle out of a legit tackle; how he could hit the hole hard and zip past the secondary before they knew what was happening; or, conversely, how he could patiently watch the play develop before him and then tunnel his way through the maze. Sure, Reddick had an outstanding line to run behind. But he also went into every game against an opponent that was well aware that he was the man. Yet, they still couldn’t stop him from becoming one of the best running backs District 10 has ever seen.