High Schools

Stevens: Trio makes it a good time to watch high school football

tstevens@newsobserver.comOctober 8, 2013 

There may have never been a better time to watch area high school football than this season.

And if there has ever been a more exciting trio of playmakers than Leesville Road’s Braxton Berrios, Garner’s Nyheim Hines and Wake Forest’s Bryce Love, I can’t recall them.

The three players, when healthy, provide enough remarkable plays on an average night to fill a season’s highlight reel.

“Those three guys are a great example of the high school talent in North Carolina,” said Micahel Farrell, a Fox Sports football recruiting analyst. “I still remember Berrios going to Oregon last summer and competing in drills against the best players in the country. He ran a 3.81 short shuttle run, the fastest time in the country.

“Having those three guys in the same area speaks volumes about how much talent there is in the state. North Carolina isn’t Texas or California in the number of players going on to the next year, but there are a lot of great players in North Carolina now.”

Berrios is sidelined with an ankle injury but when healthy he is an amazingly quick runner and hard hitter. He darts and weaves, feints and fakes.

In his first game, a 62-21 win against Durham Jordan, he rushed for 206 yards on nine carries and had scoring runs of 52, 30, 60 and 28 yards.

His feet are a blur and his exuberance is apparent.

Berrios is 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 so he isn’t as big as some college programs desire, but major college coaches from all across the country have lined up to offer him scholarships.

“This kid knows how to get open, how to catch the football, and how to make plays,” said Chad Simmons, an analyst for scout.com.

“He may not be the biggest, the fastest, or have the most upside at wide receiver, but he is a playmaker. He has a great feel for the game, he catches everything within reach, he sets up defensive backs, and he has very good quickness in and out of his cuts. He is a very reliable wideout and one I see being very productive on the next level.”

Love is the fastest of the three and is a national-caliber sprinter and it shows when he gets loose. He plays in coach Reggie Lucas’ Wing-T formation and doesn’t get a lot of carries, but averages 12.6 yards per carry.

Hand him the ball and move the chains. But Simmons said Love, 5-9, 180, will continue to get better.

“Love is still learning how to play running back and how to not play super-fast at all times,” Simmons said. “He is known as a track star and he displays that speed on the football field now.”

“He is still learning how to set up his blocks, run with patience behind the line of scrimmage, and those types of things, but when he sees daylight, he is gone. He can catch the ball well out of the backfield.”

Hines, 5-8, 180, has the most incredible numbers among the trio.

Middle Creek held him to 85 yards in Garner’s opening 22-16 win, but since then he has rushed for 229 or more yards in each game. He has 1,590 yards and gets 10.2 yards per carry.

The last seven area rushing leaders have averaged 173 yards or less.

“This young man is so elusive when he gets the football,” Simmons said. “He has quick reaction, he changes direction very well, and he never slows down on the field. He plays with good speed and he is tough for defenders to touch in space. He needs to add bulk, but he is a real weapon. He is ideal for a spread type of offense and when in space, not many can get a hand on him.”

There are plenty of people who wish they had taken advantage of a chance to see Pete Maravich play basketball at Broughton, or Anthony Barbour of Garner or Josh Adams of Cary run the football, or Athens Drive's Josh Hamilton hit a baseball or Holly Springs' Carlos Rodan fire a fastball.

Years from now, folks might be talking about the time they saw Berrios, or Hines, or Love.

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