Monday, June 10, 2013

Reedley Pirate powerhouses

Greg Quezada (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)
Time to travel through the blossom trails and head over to Reedley for two bruising and fast-rising prospects at Reedley High School.

When it comes to duos in football, we tend to think about a quarterback-wide receiver duo, or cornerback and safety pair. Very rarely does a lineman and running back duo get mentioned - until now.

Class of 2014 offensive lineman Ivan Espiritu and 2015 running back Greg Quezada could be one of the most underrated duos in the Central Section this fall. Both have been receiving lots of praise from new Pirate head coach and 31-year coaching veteran Mike Vogt, plus have had schools from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Mountain West Conference asking about them.

Both Pirates could be the most physical duo in the Central Valley. With a new regime coming in and both men on offense, expect Espiritu (6-foot-3, 273-pounds) to create space on the line and Quezada (5-foot-11, 200-pounds) to be the freight train for the Pirates.

Espiritu has an explosive get-off after the ball is snapped that's quite similar to a fast defensive lineman. He does a good job getting his hands on a defender right away then exploding into his opponent. He'll set a tone for any offensive line with his drive blocking and upper body strength. He's also played all five line spots. If there's anyone who loves watching offensive linemen putting defenders on their back, Espiritu will be one to watch under the lights this fall.

Quezada led the team in rushing as a sophomore last season while playing in the fast-paced fly offense. With his bulk and power, though, he's built more to go north-south and the perception around Reedley is that the Pirates will go between the tackles a lot this fall, which could mean a breakout junior season for Quezada. He's starting to remind me more of former University of Nevada star running back Vai Taua.

Right now, he's a power back who bounces off of defenders or drags them on his back. I've yet to see one defender get lucky enough to tackle Quezada by himself. He's a determined runner who doesn't stop his feet after contact is made. For a big back, I was also impressed with his cutback ability. He's got a smooth foot plant and then bursts through the open hole on the outside.

So far this summer, Quezada has been trying to improve his hands. He's been an effective receiver on screen passes and short out routes.

Ivan Espiritu No. 76 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
Both men have had college football visitors. Espiritu has talked to UC Davis, Sacramento State, Fresno State, Cal, Arizona, Cal Poly, Portland State, Boise State and Air Force either by phone, through letters or on the RHS campus. Espiritu was also a recent participant of the Fresno State individual skills camp on Sunday, June 9.

The same schools have also asked about Quezada, but Colorado State and BYU have also asked about the Class of 2015 prospect.

Espiritu will need to refine his pass blocking, since he's been caught standing straight up and relying more on his power. Quezada will have to continue to develop his speed because he's not a trail blazer at the moment. In the end, though, these are two powerhouses in Reedley who can leave a trail of defenders on their backs. And, after a disappointing 2-8 season in 2012 plus three consecutive sub .500 seasons, both Espiritu and Quezada can help turn the tide of Pirates football.

More on Quezada:

More on Espiritu:

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