When the lights come on and the footballs start flying Friday nights, it’s hard to know where to look. Quarterback, linebacker, cheerleaders, screaming coach. When it comes to players, we’re here to help out. Here’s a list of 10 players that you may want to keep your eye on when the high school football season begins Friday.
Bradley Mickey (Arroyo Grande, No. 20, FS/WR/RB) — The Eagles are going to be good, and Mickey might be the most complete player on the team. And he won’t lack for playing time. He’s a hard-hitting free safety who used instincts to grab 10 interceptions last season. He also had seven touchdowns as a wide receiver and running back. Look for him to continue to terrorize quarterbacks and have an increased role on offense. (2014 Highlights)Marc Martin (Atascadero, No. 3, MLB/RB) — The leading rusher in the PAC 5 last season despite missing games with injury is bigger and hungrier in 2015. He figures to be the top running back in the PAC 5 again in a run-first offense that boasts the biggest offensive line in San Luis Obispo County. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior will also hold down the middle of the Greyhounds’ defense at middle linebacker.(2014 Highlights)
Matt Keller (Paso Robles, No. 41, RB/TE) — It will be hard to miss Keller. He will be the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Bearcats linebacker smashing opposing players. His goal going into this season was to hit harder. Also, look for the senior captain to get some playing time at tight end.
Christian Erickson (Paso Robles, No. 20, RB) — Erickson, who finished second in the PAC 5 in rushing as a sophomore, will be the crown jewel of the Bearcats’ offense after the departure of wide receiver Bailey Gaither. Erickson added a few pounds in the offseason, and might be the toughest player to bring down in the county. (2014 Highlights)
— Clayton will play offensive and defensive line for the Tigers this season, but look for the 6-foot-2 senior to do most of his damage on defense. Clayton moved from middle linebacker to defensive end in the Tigers’ new scheme and has plenty of speed and strength on the outside to give quarterbacks in the PAC 5 problems.
Isaac Lindsey (Templeton, No. 32, FB/DL) — Remember the name, you will hear it again. The junior defensive end and fullback is poised for a breakout season for the Eagles. Lindsey will get carries in the ground game, but he will likely make his name stopping the run and pushing the pocket on defense.
Timmy Miller (Mission Prep, No. 22, CB/RB) — On a team with three Millers, it was sophomore Timmy who turned heads this offseason. His older brother Patrick (No. 14) and twin brother Joseph (No. 5) are good players, but look for Timmy to make plays at cornerback (where he played as a freshman) and running back for the Royals. He’s got good size and speed at 6-feet, 170- pounds and his teammates say he works as hard as anybody.
Bryce Fledderman (Mission Prep, No. 10, QB) — The Royals changed their entire offense to suit the 6-foot-4 junior. Mission Prep will run a shotgun/pistol offense this season to help Fledderman get more time in the pocket. After struggling at times last season, Fledderman has improved his overall strength and will likely battle it out with Templeton’s Jordan Bernal for most passing touchdowns in the Northern League, if his development continues. (2014 Highlights)Isaac Manaputy (Morro Bay, No. 2, QB/FS/K)
— Manaputy is a three-way player and easily the most talented player on an inexperienced Pirates team. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior will be running the ball plenty this season as the featured player in new head coach David Kelley’s triple-option offense. Manaputy will also handle all kicking duties and can hit field goals from 45 yards out.
Terry Wambolt (Nipomo, No. 30, MLB/RB) — Wambolt is small, but that didn’t stop him from setting a school record for total tackles as a junior last season with 170. The 5-foot-8 senior should be one of the most exciting players to watch on defense in the Northern League thanks to his hard-hitting style and nose for the ball.