The old-fashioned concept of hard work has paid handsome dividends for two area high school football players who were well off the radar a year ago.
Running back Colby Carrera of Vista del Lago and wide receiver John Horn of Yuba City have emerged as statistical leaders and focuses for opposing defenses.
Carrera infused an offensive punch for the Eagles since assuming full-time running back duties Sept. 19, helping them rebound from an 0-3 start. A junior transfer from Oak Ridge, Carrera blended in with his teammates and got their attention by rushing for 718 yards and 15 touchdowns in a three-game winning streak.
Horn went from reserve to top target, though the overall results have been disappointing. Despite catching 23 passes for 636 yards (27.7 average) and six touchdowns, the Honkers are 1-5 with tough losses to No. 4 Elk Grove (7-0), No. 5 Jesuit (34-21) and No. 9 Inderkum (35-19).
“I knew if I kept working on my game, lifting weights, dedicating myself, I’d see results, and I have,” Horn said. “I try to do everything I can to help us win. I’m a very competitive person, and it’s been hard losing these games, but we’re working hard. It’ll get better.”
Carrera spoke similarly early in the season when Vista del Lago lost to Wood 63-49, Ponderosa 43-42 and Sacramento 31-25. Then he started to get the ball in bunches. He went for 216 yards and four scores to help defeat Bradshaw Christian 56-42, 211 yards and six scores in a 62-51 win over Placer, and 291 yards and five touchdowns to help beat El Camino 53-28.
For the season, Carrera has rushed for 823 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“It feels great, and I get the ball and run as hard as I can, trusting my line, which has been great, just killing it,” Carrera said. “This has been a dream. I love my teammates, my other family.
“It shows that if you have a passion for something and give it your all, things will happen.”
Horn has embraced that attitude, rising at 5 a.m. for workouts. He had two catches – both touchdowns – for 147 yards in a 21-16 loss to Pleasant Valley of Chico. He had 101 receiving yards and a score against Inderkum. And Horn had the best receiving game in Honkers history last Friday with 11 catches for 309 yards and two scores. That’s the second-best effort in Sac-Joaquin Section history behind the Damen Wheeler’s state-record 380 receiving yards for Sacramento High in last season’s playoffs.
Brian Brown, a Bee All-Metro wide receiver in the 1980s who set a number of school records, is considered the greatest player in Yuba City lore, but he never went for 300 yards. Horn knows him well.
“I played for him in youth football, and people say he’s the best to come out of here,” Horn said. “It’s an honor to be mentioned with him.”
Horn also plays defense, punts and plays on every other special team. He returned two of his six interceptions for touchdowns in a 47-29 victory over Foothill of Palo Cedro. He is second in the section in interceptions.
Disdaining punts – In its never-ending pursuit of first downs and refusal to punt, even with poor field position, top-ranked Folsom continued to go for it on fourth down against Del Oro last Friday. The Bulldogs converted four times on fourth down on four scoring drives in a 42-7 victory. This included a fourth-and-10 on its 28 (a Jake Browning 16-yard run), a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jake Jeffrey on a fourth and 5, and Browning scrambling again for a first down on fourth and 6 before hitting Jeffrey for a 3-yard score for a 28-7 lead.
▪ Browning leads the nation with 35 touchdown passes and the state with 2,244 passing yards.
▪ An unsung running back on a team desperate for wins, Orlando Sanchez of Johnson has rushed for 825 yards and five touchdowns for the 1-4 Warriors. He had 290 yards and three scores in a 35-28 victory over Eliot Christian on Sept. 6 and 305 yards in a 27-20 loss to McClatchy last Friday.
▪ Mitchell Harris of Valley leads the section with 27.8 yards per catch. He has four touchdowns.
▪ Kevin Loheit of El Camino heads the section with eight field goals.
▪ Dejon Glover of Natomas leads the section in punt-return average at 34.3 with a long of 95 yards.
▪ Lonny Powell of Sacramento tops the section with 11.5 sacks. The senior linebacker has verbally committed to Cal.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.