Success doesn’t happen overnight.
And it definitely doesn’t come easy.
Marcos Reyes, the record-setting running back and linebacker for the 2018 Aptos football team, is a strong believer of both of those phrases.
Wanting to be a 4.0 GPA student, he found pockets of time during his hectic schedule to complete assignments, work ahead on future projects and study for midterms and finals.
When he wanted to buy a car, he worked at a few local restaurants and saved his pennies for three years — nearly $10,000 — to purchase a 2013 Dodge Challenger, which he calls his “baby.”
And when he wanted to take his play on the football field to the next level, he bought a gym membership and spent dozens of hours — by himself, at times — trying to improve his athleticism.
“You got to have that want,” Reyes said. “You can’t just show up and expect it. It’s a process. None of this happened overnight. I spent a lot of time in that weight room, running, pushing myself, sweating, and it paid off. Definitely.”
Reyes this fall pieced together arguably the most impressive football season in the program’s history, breaking at least 14 records and earning league M.V.P. honors while leading Aptos to its fourth Central Coast Section championship of the decade and first-ever regional bowl game berth.
Now Reyes can add yet another accomplishment to his ever-growing list. The Register-Pajaronian is naming the standout two-way star our Football Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“In 44 years, he’s got to be one of the top players I’ve ever had,” Aptos coach Randy Blankenship said about Reyes at the conclusion of the season. “The difference was he had to play both sides of the ball. I’ve had some other backs that were really, really good, and I’ve had really good linebackers. He did both with very little rest, and he never complained.”
Despite being only 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Reyes was a tank whenever he had the ball in his hands — earning chants of “feed-the-beast” while he plowed through defenders — and a hard-nosed tackler at the heart of a speedy defense. He also played special teams from time to time, and flashed his prowess as a passer, too, on a handful of halfback passes in big moments.
According to statistics provided by the program, Reyes finished his career with 3,683 yards rushing, 344 points, 57 touchdowns and 372 rushing attempts — all program records. As a senior, he broke the records for most rushing yards (1,933), points (218) and touchdowns (36) in a single season, and rushing yards (677), points (80) and rushing attempts (81) in a single postseason.
He also broke the single-game postseason records for rushing yards (214), attempts (24) and points (26), setting the first two marks in the team’s miraculous 35-34 win over Sacred Heart Prep in the CCS Open Division III championship game, and the other in a 49-6 rout of rival Palma in the section semifinals.
Aptos senior running back Marcos Reyes (6) was a tough tackle, dishing out punishing blows en route to 1,933 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns — both single-season program records. — Tony Nunez/Register-Pajaronian File Photo
For as good as Reyes was through the Mariners’ eight-game win streak at the start of the season, he raised his game to yet another level down the final stretch. He rushed for at least 160 yards and two touchdowns in all but one of his last seven games, only being held under the century mark against a star-studded McClymonds squad in the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal 4-A championship game. Reyes rushed for 78 yards against a big, fast and physical defense featuring at least three future NCAA Division I players, but managed to score all three of the Mariners’ touchdowns in the 28-20 loss.
Aptos finished 11-3 overall, broke the program record for yards and points in a single season and was ranked as high as 70th in the state by MaxPreps.
“This team was something special,” Reyes said.
The Mariners could have very well thrown in the towel after fumbling away the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan division title in a pair of heartbreaking losses to eventual co-champions Palma and Salinas. But they regrouped in the playoffs and rolled past Terra Nova and Palma to earn their fifth CCS final appearance of the decade and first since 2015.
They took full advantage of their opportunity, stunning S.H.P. behind Reyes’s big day.
“When you fail, that’s when you learn,” Reyes said. “You learn from your mistakes — whether it’s life or in football…I was even more motivated (after the losses) to show that we weren’t done.”
Reyes said he has hopes of playing football in college — he’s still looking for the right fit of academics, athletics and price — and wants to study business, a subject that comes easy to him because of the hard work and discipline instilled in him by his parents Sylvia and Randy.
When asked what he hopes to be in 10 years, Reyes said “happy.”
“I just want to be living life, being healthy and doing what I love — whatever that may be,” Reyes said. “That’s what means most to me.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
• Hunter Matys, Aptos - The senior quarterback unlocked the true potential of the Mariners’ explosive offense with several long runs at the end of the season.
Matys (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) finished with more than 800 yards rushing — second-most on the team — and 10 touchdowns to go along with his 922 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.
He rushed for at least 100 yards four times this fall, including in back-to-back CCS Open D-III playoff games against Terra Nova (131) and Palma (118).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
• Silvano Lopez, Aptos - The senior this fall made the move from inside linebacker to deep safety and did not miss a beat, excelling in run support and erasing deep passes over the middle for the Mariners’ opportunistic defense.
Lopez (5-8, 175) finished the year with four interceptions, a fumble recovery, at least two forced fumbles and close to 100 tackles.
COACH OF THE YEAR
• Randy Blankenship, Aptos - In his ninth season at the helm, Blankenship captured his ninth section title and earned Santa Cruz County’s first trip to a regional bowl game.
His mesmerizing Wing-T offense twice produced three 100-yard rushers in the CCS playoffs, and scored at least 35 points in all but one game against CCS competition.
The All-RP Football Team
QB: Hunter Matys, Aptos, Sr.
RB: Marcos Reyes, Aptos, Sr.
RB: Matthew Barcelo, Watsonville, Sr.
RB: Carlos Hernandez, Pajaro Valley, Jr.
WR: Andrew Seymour, St. Francis, Sr.
TE: Casey Bailey, Aptos, Jr.
ATH: Daniel Brierley, Monte Vista Christian, Sr.
OL: Adam Candelario, Aptos, So.
OL: Josh Sousa-Jimenez, Aptos, Sr.
OL: Hayden Mennie, Aptos, Sr.
OL: Alec Ramirez, Monte Vista Christian, Sr.
OL: Anthony Shepherd, Monte Vista Christian, Jr.
DL: Josh Powell, Aptos, Jr.
DL: Dylan Vargas, Watsonville, Sr.
DL: Rodrigo Hernandez, Watsonville, Sr.
DL: Manny Murillo, Pajaro Valley, Sr.
LB: Aaron Soto, St. Francis, Sr.
LB: Dre Gomez, Aptos, Jr.
LB: Vaughen Holland, Aptos, Jr.
LB: Shane Modena, Aptos, Sr.
DB: Bubba Gallardo, Aptos, Sr.
DB: Silvano Lopez, Aptos, Sr.
DB: Scott Tinsley, Monte Vista Christian, Sr.
DB: Riley Anderson, North Monterey County, Jr.