Yreka High School football preview: Meet the top 5 players, see the 2022 schedule

File photo - In September 2021, the Yreka Miners face Cascade Christian in Mount Shasta.
Ethan Hanson
Redding Record Searchlight

Thunder rumbled the stadium at Miner Field in Yreka on Tuesday.

Yreka High School was holding practice for all football players on the freshmen-sophomore, junior varsity and varsity teams. They were in full pads. The air was smoky due to the McKinney Fire burning just a few miles west, and the sky was gray amid a steady downpour.

Head coach John Marquez said 16-18 players weren't able to make practice because they evacuated with their families during the fire. 

Still, the fire and rain couldn't stop the school from having a productive day at the field. Yreka head coach John Marquez was instituting his offense. His assistants were running tackling drills.

John Marquez, head football coach at Yreka High School

"We tell our kids to take one day at a time and one step at a time," Marquez said. 

Evacuated players from Yreka are sheltering in areas from Redding to southern Oregon. Marquez said practice will continue despite the fires so long as the air quality index (AQI) stays below 150. 

"Adversity is going to come and we don't shy away from it. We don't run from it," Marquez said. "We punch it right in the mouth."

Yreka is expected to field 63 varsity players in 2022 after 55 players appeared in 2021. Yreka went 1-9 last season and its lone win was against Trinity on the road.

Marquez is hopeful the team will make improvements from previous years because of the team's growth. Yreka hasn't fielded a winning team since 2014 and hasn't won a playoff game since 2007.

"There's definitely excitement," Marquez said. "I've seen the growth in these kids from spring football to now. It's great to watch them buy in."

Marquez is in his second stint at Yreka. He coached Yreka during the 2016-18 seasons. Marquez went 9-20 during that period. 

Marquez, who in his previous assignment at Kenai Central High School won a state championship, has a way of motivating his players. He speaks in a commanding tone and compliments the athletes during practice when they do something right.

Marquez is the reason senior offensive lineman Blake Carlson decided to play this year. Carlson skipped football in 2021.

"The new coaching staff gets fired up and into the games," Carlson said.

Yreka's preparation in practice could help the team win games against West Valley, U-Prep, Central Valley and Anderson in the Northern Athletic League.

Here are the top five Yreka players to watch in the upcoming fall season.

Yreka High School senior tight end and defensive end Aiden Miller holds his pads after practice inside his school's gym on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

1. Aiden Miller - TE/DE - senior

Miller is 5-foot-11 and has been recognized for his tackling ability by his coaches. He is also one of Yreka's huddle leaders.

"The kid is athletically gifted," Marquez said. "He's smart IQ-wise in football. He's got a great frame, he's coachable and he does what he's asked."

Miller is a two-sport athlete who batted .355 with 15 hits and nine RBI on the baseball team this past spring. Miller credited his growth on the football field to his coaches.

"The coaches this year are putting in way more effort," Miller said. "We are way more consistent and we have what it takes to beat the teams down in the south this year."

Yreka High School junior wide receiver and free safety Ethan Crowley holds his pads after practice on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

2. Ethan Crowley - WR/S - junior

Yreka's top target at wide receiver will be Crowley. He is the only underclassmen featured on this list.

"We all have a different mental view and I feel like we're doing better than we've had in the past," Crowley said. "We have a different way of looking at the game."

Crowley is quick on offense and can read quarterbacks on defense. 

"(Crowley) has a great work ethic," Marquez said. "He runs great routes, he's precise, he's got great hands and he's got one motor, which is go."

Yreka High School senior quarterback and safety Quenton Yates holds his pads after practice at his school's gym on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

3. Quenton Yates - QB/S - senior

Yates is Yreka's dual-threat quarterback that will eat up yards in 2022. Yates is one of the Miners' quicker athletes.

"I'm excited to be out here," Yates said. "I feel like with the greater numbers we're seeing on the field, we're going to have a good season."

Marquez said he thinks Yates will break open for large run gains as a ball carrier.

"We are banking on (Yates) being our third running back," Marquez said. "The kid is athletically gifted all the way around. We just got to get him molded mentally."

Yreka High School senior offensive and defensive lineman Blake Carlson holds his pads after practice inside his school's gym on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

4. Blake Carlson - OL/DL - senior

Anchoring Yreka's offensive line is Carlson. He didn't play last year but earned a leadership role because of his performance during spring workouts.

"He's one of our smaller offensive linemen but he is stout," Marquez said. "He's dirty and he's gritty."

Yreka High School senior running back and linebacker Skyler Crane holds his pads inside of his school's gym on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

5. Skyler Crane - RB/LB - senior

Crane will be Yreka's power option at running back. He is a 5-foot-9 athlete who enjoys putting his shoulder pads down and barreling through defenses.

"I'm just going to have a lot of heart and bring a lot of energy," Crane said. "I'm going to play fast."

2022 Yreka football schedule

  • 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 at home against Etna
  • 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 on the road against Colusa
  • 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 on the road against Enterprise
  • 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 on the road against Mount Shasta
  • 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at home against Trinity
  • Sept. 30 BYE
  • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 7 at home against Anderson
  • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at home against Central Valley 
  • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 on the road against Lassen
  • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at home against U-Prep
  • 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 on the road against West Valley

Ethan Hanson started working for the Redding Record Searchlight after four years with the Los Angeles Daily News as a freelancer. His coverage includes working the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament in South Bend, Indiana, and writing about the St. Louis Rams' move to Los Angeles with the Ventura County Star. He began his career as a play-by-play broadcaster for LA Pierce College from 2011-2017. Follow him on Twitter at @EthanAHanson_RS.