Highlander gridiron stars take top league honors
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In a non-COVID year, Incline football might have played for a state title.
The Highlanders couldn’t practice at home, didn’t play any of their five games on the North Shore but managed to win four of them with the one loss coming in double overtime in the season opener. They also managed to defeat perennial powerhouse Yerington by 30 points, for the first time this millennium and beyond.
The Highlanders enjoyed skilled players all over the field and their success was reflected in the end of season awards.
Senior running back Brad Rye was selected as the 2A Northern League’s Most Valuable Player, senior quarterback Dylan Cleary earned Offensive Player of the Year, senior Christopher Vaughn is Lineman of the Year, senior Marco Barraza was named Punter of the Year and was also a first team All-League selection at defensive end and junior Brody Thralls earned the award at two positions, wide receiver and defensive end.
Head coach Brian Martinez was voted Coach of the Year.
Incline award winners include Royce Stonebreaker (first team OL/second team DL), Jack Reber (first team LB/second team OL), Nick Suter (first team DB/honorable mention K), Tyler Manship (second team WR and K), Jakob Hugar (second team RB) and David Resendiz (second team LB).
“Congratulations to all of the players who were recognized,” Martinez said. “Each of these honors is something to be very proud of. I couldn’t be prouder as a coach to have so many of our players selected.”
Rye didn’t get to show off his basketball skills this year, but was tremendous on the gridiron.
The running back rushed for 729 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 57 carries, an average of 146 yards per game and a 12.8 yards per carry. He enjoyed his biggest games against the strongest competition.
In the Highlanders first win over Yerington in at least 30 years, Rye carried 17 times for 153 yards and three TDs.
In Incline’s narrowest victory of the season, 17-8 over Battle Mountain, Rye rushed for 226 yards and two scores on 19 carries. The performance included a 92-yard run.
In the season-opening loss that Incline would love a do-over, Rye had 142 yards and two TDs on 11 totes.
On defense, the linebacker/defensive back hybrid led the Highlanders with four interceptions.
Cleary also enjoyed his best game against Yerington. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, he finished 40 of 69 for 375 yards and six TDs. Thralls caught 16 of those passes for 202 yards and five scores.
On the ground he rushed for 175 yards on 26 carries.
Vaughn doesn’t collect the statistics that get reported the most, but Rye can attribute some of those holes he ran through to the league’s top lineman.
Incline punted just seven times this season, but Barraza made the most of them by averaging over 42 yards per boot, including a 52-yarder.
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