Throughout much of K’Ren Spain development as a high school quarterback, there whispers that he was too small and too inexperienced to be effective at the game’s most demanding position, let alone run Terra Nova’s modern spread offense.
Nobody’s questioning his quarterbacking ability now.
The Terra Nova senior’s athleticism, aptitude and work ethic helped him silence his critics at just about every turn.
And he just got the last laugh.
Spain, who helped lead the Tigers to their school record fourth consecutive Peninsula Athletic League Bay championship, was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year over the weekend.
He was among seven Terra Nova first-team all-league selections.
Spain, primarily a defensive back and running back in youth football, had very little quarterbacking experience when he took over the position on the sophomore team. The 5-foot-10 180-pounder became the Tigers starting quarterback this year after backing up Chris Forbes last season.
He completed nearly two thirds of passes and used his arm and his feet to combine for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.
“The work that was done with him with (offensive coordinator) Tim Adams made him a very, very good player, to the point where all the other coaches thought he was the best offensive player in the league,” Terra Nova coach Bill Gray said.
“Some people did say that he was out of position, when in fact he wasn't. He's a very, very good athlete and he worked really hard to help the team win a championship.”
Spain completed 218 of 337 pass attempts (64.7 percent) for 2,336 yards with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He ran for 971 yards and 12 touchdowns on 144 carries.
Joining Spain as first-team all-league selections were senior running back Tanner Piccolotti, junior wide receiver Jaylend Jones, senior offensive linemen Domonic De Souza and Richard Auelua, junior defensive lineman Sam Auelua (Richard’s brother) and senior linebacker Matt Motylewski.
Piccolotti led the Tigers rushing for 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns on 174 carries. He was also among the team’s leading receivers with 30 catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones led the team with 70 receptions for 820 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Motylewski is the son of former Terra Nova player Rich Motylewski, who coached Jefferson in the early 1990s.
Matt was among the team’s leading tacklers and the Tigers unofficial leader in making big plays.
“Matt might be one of the best outside linebackers I've ever coached,” Gray said. “He's a very good run defender and a very good pass defender and he had himself a great year.”
The Central Coast Section’s controversial football playoff selection process is expected to come under fire at an annual CCS football evaluation meeting on Wednesday.
Gray is among a growing number of coaches who believe the CCS unfairly punishes public school leagues champions from low enrollment schools by putting them in the elite Open Division.
Terra Nova, a small coed school with an enrollment just over 1,000, played Bellarmine in the first round of the playoffs last month for a second straight year. Bellarmine draws from an enrollment pool nearly four times bigger on an all-male campus of 1,800.
“We're going to be tying to introduce some bylaw changes that would enable us to make it more realistic for small public schools like ours to play in their division of enrollment instead of the Open Division,” Gray said.
Gray was among several coaches unsuccessfully lobbied for such changes in the CCS’s selection process last year.
But he believes the momentum is building to challenge the current policy.
“More and more schools are finding themselves affected by things that have forced us into the Open Division in the last two years, so a lot of people are willing to take a harder look at it to either make small changes or make big changes to see to it that it's more equitable and fair.”
Terra Nova will host an awards dinner for all fall sports teams on Thursday. The event will be held at the school’s theater at 7 p.m.