Preparing to face off against Capistrano Valley (Calif.) for the Southern Section Division 5 title, junior cornerback Bookie Radley-Hiles knew that there was a void he needed to fill.
Calabasas (Calif.) two-way superstar Darnay Holmes wasn’t dressed out. Instead, the No. 9 prospect in the 2017 class was bundled up in sweats and a jacket trying to stay warm on a chill night and trying to keep down the few items his stomach bug hadn’t yet claimed.
It was Radley-Hiles’ turn to be a go-to-guy on both sides of the ball. The four-star 2018 prospect did what he always tries to do, be like Darnay.
“That's my brother. Any thing that he do, I try to do it. Then if I do it, he's going to top me off right then after that. He's always going to win the battle, but it's fun going against him all the time in practice too.”
Radley-Hiles looks up to Holmes and tries to constantly one-up his ‘big brother.’ But with no Holmes to compete against on Saturday, he felt he needed to step up for the Coyotes.
“A little bit, but that’s with or without him. When he's on the field with me, it's like I have to do a lot just to impress him,” Radley-Hiles said with a smile. “If I can't impress him, he's going to be mad at me, so I'm going to try to do something that he's never seen before and then after that, he's going to top that off. That man is the best football player I've ever played with.”
Early in the game, Radley-Hiles struggled fumbling twice. One was recovered by Capistrano Valley in the red zone as Calabasas was driving, looking for their first score. The Coyotes also threw an interception deep in Capo Valley territory.
But the Calabasas offense couldn’t be held down for long. It quickly installed the rocket boosters and got running full throttle for the rest of the first half. Nebraska quarterback commit Tristan Gebbia tossed four touchdowns and passed for 371 yards in the first half to build a 28-0 lead. He connected with Radley-Hiles for a 7-yard touchdown on the Coyotes first drive of the second half.
“I started off a little bit slow and I had to make it back,” Radley-Hiles said, “but my team gathered around me and basically pulled me back into the spirits, so I was feeling good. I was feeling real good about the performance.”
Radley-Hiles finished with eight catches for 132 yards and the score as Calabasas cruised to a 35-14 win and the Division 5 title.
“Everybody says how last year's team was the best team in Calabasas history, so to make it this far undefeated to back to where they were was a big milestone for this team and from here on, we can only get better. We're just going to go into the next game very confident.”
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Radley-Hiles will eventually go into the offseason with confidence as well. The No. 62 overall prospect in the 2018 Scout 300, Radley-Hiles has already received a lot of attention from college coaches and recruiting coordinators. Early in the season, he named Florida a favorite, but he has also taken trips to national programs such as Ohio State, Nebraska, LSU and Alabama.
The No. 3 cornerback in the West is also a high priority for the local schools, including USC where he says he tries to stop in every time he goes near the downtown area of Los Angeles. He also keeps an open line of communication with head coach Clay Helton.
“Really it's just everyday communication. 'Hi. How are you doing?' Just checking up on me all the time,” Radley-Hiles said. ”Those are my guys. I know them very well.”
At Saturday’s game, defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford was in attendance as well as veteran USC defenders Michael Hutchings and Chris Hawkins. Having the trio of Trojans there watching him perform was an honor for Radley-Hiles.
“It's crazy. It shows how much they care about their hometown guys. You see them go to Florida. They go to Texas. They go to everywhere to recruit, but when they come out to your game, it really shows how much they care about their in-state guys.”
Radley-Hiles said he was impressed by the way the Trojans finished strong this season. He’s hoping Calabasas can do the same. Two more wins would earn the Coyotes a state title.
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