NCS Freshman of the Year
IVAN ROBLEDO, ST. HELENA
After back-to-back losses to Middletown and Fort Bragg during North Central League play, St. Helena needed a spark, and the Saints found just that in freshman running back and linebacker Ivan Robledo.
Robledo’s varsity debut did come until Oct. 19 at Cloverdale, after receiving a doctor’s waiver letter to play at the highest level as a 14-year old. The host Eagles knew nothing about the junior varsity call-up before the game, but by the end of a 49-29 St. Helena victory, they had certainly had enough of him. Robledo carried the ball 23 times in his debut, running for 203 yards and four touchdowns.
“Everyone we faced was focusing on Cody (DiTomaso), and we needed a boost after the previous loss,” said St. Helena coach Brandon Farrell, who earned his 100th win at the helm of the Saints program this year. “Bringing (Ivan) up was eye-opening, and he gave us a dangerous look to both sides offensively. We just steamrolled our next three opponents with him, and we ran the ball against Salesian as well.”
In the final regular season game of the year, Robledo continued his early success, running for 183 yards and another four touchdowns in a 40-30 win over Lower Lake, propelling the Saints into the post-season. And the move was not just a benefit offensively, as the freshman also stepped right into the starting spot at middle linebacker.
“The entire team just kind of said ‘Now we have something going’, and everything shifted when he came up,” Farrell added. “We became more confident, in every aspect of the game. Offensively, we developed a great downhill running game, and he was instrumental in that, with the way he gets his shoulders into the line very quickly. Defensively, we didn’t really have to tell him anything. He makes tremendous reads and plays sideline to sideline.”
If there was any question whether the 5-foot-11, 200-pound 14-year old was ready for the bigger stage of the playoffs, it was answered immediately. In a 48-22 first-round win over Hoopa Valley, Robledo carried the ball 24 times for a whopping 234 yards and three scores. The next week, facing perennial small school powerhouse Salesian, he ran for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 49-28 defeat.
“When I saw him out-running Salesian players, I really realized he can be something special,” said St. Helena assistant Ian MacMillan, who is also the Saints’ head junior varsity coach and was previously the head varsity coach at American Canyon.
While Robledo’s tenure at the varsity level may have been short in length during his freshman year, it was long on impact, and on the future of the St. Helena program.
“We didn’t change much once Ivan came up, but with a whole summer coming up, we are excited to see what we can do,” Farrell concluded.
After running for 800 yards and 13 touchdowns during his impactful call-up, there is no doubt that Robledo is also excited to see what the future holds.
For his efforts this season, we are pleased to recognize Ivan Robledo as the Prep2Prep NCS Freshman of the Year.
Other players considered for this award include Benicia’s Dominic Spivey, Hayward’s Enoke Misi, Encinal’s Simeon Mitchell and St. Bernard’s Jacob Smallwood.