By Lynn Saternow
Herald/Allied News Sports Editor
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
Blake Reddick set the Mercer County single-game rushing record Friday, but while individual records are nice, there are bigger goals ahead for the Lakeview Sailors as they drive for the Distirct 10 Class A playoffs.
“It’s nice when it happens, but it’s nothing you plan on happening,” said Lakeview coach Dan York of Reddick’s 391-yard, 5-touchdown performance against Cochranton on only 12 carries. “I think he only carried a couple of times in the second half.
“And you don’t do something like that by yourself. We’ve been blessed with fairly good linemen the whole time Blake has been here. And Blake aways praises his fullback (Marquis Spence).”
The big guys up front who spring Reddick loose include Sam Breese, Hunter Armstrong, Austin Hostetler, Stan Mellott, George Hooker, Jarrett Troy as well as running back Brandon Rice.
Reddick scored touchdowns on long runs of 73, 57, 76, 53 and 94 yards in setting the record. The 94-yarder that came in the third quarter surpassed the Mercer County mark of Kennedy Christian’s Joel Giroski’s 377-yard, 13-carry performance in a District 10 semifinals victory over Maplewood in 1994. And like with Giroski, he saw only a couple of carries in the second half.
The Allied News area record belongs to Slippery Rock’s Josh Kneiss, who had 412 yards on 31 carries in a 54-23 rout of Franklin in 2000.
“The kids came to me and wanted me to put Blake back in the ballgame so he could go over 400 yards,” said York. “But I told them, ‘No, that’s not what we are about.’
“There were other times this year when Blake only carried once or twice in the third quarter. It’s not like we are pounding him and pounding him. He could have a lot more yards.
“Blake is a great kid. He’s not a kid who walks around with his chest pumped out and he always credits his teammates. Everybody contributed.”
York said that Reddick probably runs in the 4.6 range for the 40-yard dash most of the time, although in track he didn’t run sprints, instead running the 800 and the 4-by-800 relay. And while he has the good speed, he also has great cutting ability.
“Even in practice he’s always practicing his cutting,” said York.
Reddick has amassed 1,670 yards on 123 carries this season and is on course to become the first county player to surpass 2,000 yards for two straight seasons. He had 2,025 yards as a junior on 282 totes. As a sophomore, he picked up 1,321 on 218 carries. He saw some limited time as a freshman, gaining 156 yards on 17 carries according to Herald files.
That gives him an unofficlal total of 5,172 yards at this juncture. Sharon’s T.J. Phillips (1995-98) holds the county all-time record of 6,241 yards.
Reddick is one of several senior leaders on the team, that also includes Breese, Zach Bigley, Zach VanDuesen and Conner Stankovich.
And while the team is still celebrating Reddick’s record, the party time is short with concentration now on big upcoming Region 1-A games against Sharpsville and West Middlesex before the season finale against non-region club Iroquois.
While the top four teams will make the District 10 playoffs, York and the Sailors want to go in as the top seed.
“I talked with Coach (Jarrett) Samuels from Farrell the other night,” said York, “When you get into league play there’s no place to take a breath. Every game is like a playoff game.”
But with a Blake Reddick carrying the ball behind a strong line, the Sailors are definitely a playoff-ready team.