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Top rushers, hard hitters highlight All-Area 1st team

spectacular trio of runners highlights The Union Democrat’s 2013 All-Area Football Team.

Sonora Wildcat fullback K.C. Brandsted, a first-team All Valley Oak League selection, leads a punishing group.

Brandsted rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his first season as the Wildcats featured back.

The bruising 6-foot, 190-pound senior started his season with a bang, gaining over 100 yards in three straight games, including a career-high 179 yards on 23 carries in the opener against Turlock.

“He was explosive at fullback,” said Sonora head coach Bryan Craig. “He played hard. He wasn’t a real big kid, but he ran really hard. He was very explosive in his take off. He would hit that hole very, very quickly.”

Summerville senior Brendan Brick, a tough and hard-nosed running back, was the Bears’ top offensive threat in 2013. He ran for 827 yards on 151 carries and 12 touchdowns. The versatile back also caught 12 passes for 188 yards and two scores.

“He was a big help to us,” said Summerville head coach Ben Watson. “He could run the ball consistently, and we can throw to him out of the backfield.”

Calaveras junior Connor Hamilton, a scrappy inside runner, gained 907 rushing yards on 131 carries and 10 touchdowns. The first-team All-Mother Lode League pick ran for more than 100 yards four times this season.

“He read blocks well and had good enough breakaway speed in the open field, where it was hard to catch him,” said Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby. “He played really well.”

At quarterback is Summerville Bear junior Bryce Farrell. In his first year as a varsity starter, the 6-foot-3-inch first-team All-MLL honoree threw for an area-best 1,563 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a career-high 307 and three scores against Calaveras in early November.

“He put together some good drives for us and executed well,” Watson said. “For the most part, he was a threat and he made the other teams have to worry about the passing game.”

Summerville Bear Jake Fulkerson is the only sophomore on the all-area team. Pulled up to the varsity squad midway through the 2013 season, the agile 5-foot-10-inch, 160-pound receiver made an instant impact. 

In his varsity debut against Brookside Christian, Fulkerson, a first-team All-MLL wideout, rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 25 yards and also picked off a pass. In just six games, he racked up 256 receiving yards on 21 receptions and three touchdowns, and ran the ball 27 times for 208 yards and four scores.

“As the season went on, he got more comfortable,” Watson said. “We knew he could do things athletically. He can run and catch the ball. He’s multidimensional in that regard.”

Calaveras Redskin Blake Ehlers occupies the last offensive skill position. The rangy first-team All-MLL tight end hauled in eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown in his senior season.

Anchoring the offensive line is Calaveras senior and first-team All-MLL center Emmett Barrett. 

“He’s very smart,” Weatherby said. “He’s like a quarterback on the line. He knew everyone’s blocking assignments. Very football savvy.”

At guards are Sonora Wildcat Zerek Saldivar, a VOL honorable mention as a junior, and Summerville senior Daniel Kristofic, also an All-MLL first teamer.

“Daniel’s a complete leader,” Watson said. “Kind of a coaches dream that way. A real solid player. Always giving. You never had to question if he was going to give his all on every play.”

Wildcat tackle Michael Howell and Bret Harte left tackle Jared Taylor, an imposing 6-foot-4-inch, 280 pounder, round out the line.

Taylor, a first-team All-MLL performer, took a recruiting trip to the University of Mary in early February and will attend the Division II program in North Dakota this fall.

For Bret Harte first-year head coach Jon Byrnes, Taylor was an ideal player to build a program around. 

“The guy is an animal,” Byrnes said. “Opposing coaches, on numerous occasions, after the game said they couldn’t block him and couldn’t stop him. He was a leader on the field. Always had a positive outlook. Never quit. Just an all-around great kid. He loves the game.”

Leading the defense is Calaveras Redskins linebacker Danny Gilmore, the 2013 MLL Defensive Player of the Year.

“He just seemed like he got better this year,” Weatherby said. “He matured. The last couple of years, we been waiting for him to get there, and this year, he was an impact player on defense big time.”

Sonora Wildcat Billy Kiriluk and Steve Lawrence command the inside linebacker positions. Lawrence, a three-year starter, received first-team All-VOL honors as a senior after leading the team in tackles.

“Steve was a rock on defense,” Craig said. “He was our middle linebacker and called all our defensive signals. He’s just a physical run stopper. He did everything we asked of him.”

Summerville’s Erik Wold fills out the four-man linebacking crew.

Wold, a senior who received a MLL Character Award, was one of the Bears top tacklers despite missing some time on the field.

“Pound for pound one of our toughest hitters,” Watson said. “He wasn’t a big kid, but he did a great job. Very mobile and plays with a lot of heart.”

Wreaking havoc up front and clogging holes are Sonora defensive linemen Tait Mele and Lane Mierop. Mele garnered first-team All-VOL honors as a senior in 2013.

Calaveras senior Logan Sullivan, who lined up at receiver as a freshman and sophomore, completes the three-man front. The first-team All-MLL defensive lineman was a stout presence.

“He did a great job,” Weatherby said. “Very smart player. He got off the ball really quick because he was used to playing receiver, but he also read the ball really well. In film sessions, he would ask very good questions. He’s a smart kid.”

In the defensive backfield, Sonora Wildcat Will Collamer, a first-team All-VOL cornerback, is penciled in at one spot and teammate Andrew Nessi commands a safety position. 

Collamer, who did not strap on the pads as a junior, returned to the gridiron as a senior and did not disappoint.

“He was a welcomed surprise,” Craig said. “He was a good ball hawker and he just got better every week.”

Two first-team All-MLL defensive backs complete the secondary: Calaveras’ Malachi Stockdale and Bret Harte’s Jake Bailey.

“Strong, fast, athletic and smart,” Byrnes said of Bailey. “A high quality kid. We can’t replace him either. He turned out to be a very reliable asset.

Most  Valuable Player

Mike Seawell

Running back/Receiver, Calaveras, senior


Bryce Farrell


Summerville, Junior

K.C. Brandsted

Running back

Sonora, Senior

Brendan Brick

Running back

Summerville, Senior 

Connor Hamilton

Running back,

Calaveras, Junior

Jake Fulkerson


Summerville, Soph.

Blake Ehlers

Tight end

Calaveras, Senior

Michael Howell

Offensive line

Sonora, Junior

Zerek Saldivar

Offensive line

Sonora, Junior

Jared Taylor

Offensive line

Bret Harte, Senior

Emmett Barrett

Offensive line

Calaveras, Senior

Daniel Kristofic

Offensive line

Summerville, Senior


Logan Sullivan

Defensive line

Calaveras, Senior

Lane Mierop

Defensive line

Sonora, Senior

Tait Mele

Defensive End/line

Sonora, Senior 

Danny Gilmore


Calaveras, Senior

Steve Lawrence


Sonora, Senior

Billy Kiriluk


Sonora, Junior

Erik Wold


Summerville, Senior

Will Collamer

Defensive back

Sonora, Senior

Jacob Bailey

Defensive back

Bret Harte, Senior

Malachi Stockdale

Defensive back

Calaveras, Senior

Andrew Nessi

Defensive back

Sonora, Senior

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