Clovis News: Sports

Expect show of force from Edison's Yates

It's been 24 years, not nearly enough time to forget him.

The late Trent Barnes left indelible memories in football as a frightening nose tackle for 13-0 Clovis West in 1985 and, in wrestling, as a two-time state champion who went unbeaten as a senior.

A quarter of a century is too short to forget for those of us who saw the extraordinary blend of strength and athletic ability.

It wasn't fair for teenagers who opposed him.

And now Edison's Rykeem Yates offers a reminder.

"Absolutely," says Tigers defensive line coach Jesse Scheidt.

No one's had a better view to compare than Scheidt, a teammate of Barnes and now a mentor to Yates.

"These guys are beasts -- super-human strong, and with wrestling balance," Scheidt says during a practice this week as the No. 10 Tigers (5-3, 2-1) prepare for tonight's County/Metro Athletic Conference game with No. 2 Bullard (8-0, 3-0) at Chukchansi Park.

The Knights, ranked 25th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, are sure to pound away at Edison on the ground behind backs Devan Mack and Jordan Jones.

The Tigers will counter with the section's premier defensive line tandem in Yates and Wesley Flowers.

Flowers has committed to UCLA.

Yates, meanwhile, waits.

Fresno State, Nevada and Cal Poly have offers on the table, and Boise State, UCLA, Washington and Arizona may fill the plate.

"It's going to happen," Edison coach Tim McDonald says. "It's just going to happen a little later because that's the way it is with guys with odd size."

Odd means shorter (6 feet, 1 inch) than typical major college nose tackles.

Also unusual, however, is a 250-pounder who bench presses 450 pounds.

"People just don't understand his strength," McDonald says. "He's so strong you can't single block him."

That occurred last Friday, when Hoover blew an assignment in the offensive line, Yates tossed a single blocker aside and took a bead on running back Eric Kendricks.

"That usually means a train wreck in the backfield," McDonald says.

Kendricks, at 6-1, 215, is one of the most imposing backs in the area. He committed this week to UCLA as a linebacker. But this proved to be a collision probably unlike any he's experienced.

Drilled for a 2-yard loss by Yates, Kendricks staggered back to the huddle and, clearly in a daze, was assisted off the field in the second quarter. He didn't return in a game won 43-7 by Edison.

"Rykeem turned it on," McDonald says. "But he needs to turn that motor on every week -- definitely this one. When he's focused, he becomes one of those guys who's pretty much unstoppable."

Even when he is stopped, it's generally a good thing because that means he's probably occupying two blockers, sometimes three.

There was a day that would have driven Yates to the sideline in frustration. But no more.

"That gives my teammates time to shine," he says. "They make plays if I'm not doing it because that leaves somebody open. I have no problems with that."

A problem would be falling short of the section Division II title, which the Tigers did a year ago, losing 21-15 to El Diamante in the semifinals.

First, however, is the latest CMAC showdown with Bullard, which beat Edison 17-14 last year in a game the Tigers had six turnovers.

"We don't fear them," Yates says, "but we've gotta respect them."

He talks little, the words no match for his play on the field.

But there's no confusing the section target in a deep D-II playoff field that will be formed in seeding Nov. 14: "We're in it to win it."